Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a female clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, on Monday, February 19.
This is the sixth litter for eight-year-old parents Lom Choy, mother, and Luk, father. The couple have been paired for mating since they were one year old and have been having litters since 2011. Their newest cub weighed about 188 grams at birth. With the addition of this cub, the Zoo is now home to nine clouded leopards. Nashville Zoo has had 32 clouded leopards born since 2009. There are currently 61 clouded leopards in Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ care and 274 globally.
Lom Choy had three cubs on Feb. 19 and within the days following, keepers noticed two of the cubs were victims of parental predation, a trait common in clouded leopards. The third cub was immediately removed for hand rearing.
“We hand rear our cubs because it allows this normally nervous species to become acclimated to the sights and sounds of human interaction, typical in an exhibit environment,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, DVM. “Cubs that are hand reared are known to allow for easier keeper interaction and reduces stress in the animal.”
Nashville Zoo is a member of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and also part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan®. Robertson is the nationwide Vet Advisor for this species and Nashville Zoo also spearheads conservation efforts for this species with the Smithsonian National Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at Khao Kheow breeding facility in Thailand.
Clouded leopards are listed as "vulnerable" and protected in most range countries although enforcement in many areas is weak. Precise data on clouded leopard population numbers in the wild is not known. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and reduced sightings of clouded leopards by people within its range suggest the species is in decline.