Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce Niran has given birth to two cubs between 1-2 p.m. on Sunday, March 24. In 2017, Niran was the first clouded leopard ever to be born from artificial insemination (AI) through cryopreservation.
The newest cubs weigh about 187 and 192 grams each. With the addition of these cubs, the Zoo is now home to eight clouded leopards. Nashville Zoo has been working with these cats since 1987 and has welcomed 34 cubs since 2009. There are currently 69 clouded leopards in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ care and 292 in facilities globally.
“The two cubs are doing fantastic,” stated Dr. Heather Robertson, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinary Services. “We’ve really made history with Niran, who was born from AI, giving birth to two healthy cubs successfully with no complications.”
After 2-year-old Niran gave birth, the Zoo veterinary team removed the cubs to hand rear. The veterinary staff often hand raise clouded leopard cubs due to the common nature of this species to neglect their offspring. Hand-rearing also lowers animal stress for future hands-on care.
Niran and 1-year-old Ron, the father, are located behind the scenes, and the cubs will be placed in the HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center neonatal animal care room within a week. The cubs will stay at Nashville Zoo for now with plans to eventually introduce them to a potential mate at another zoo.
Nashville Zoo is part of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and also part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan ®. Dr. Robertson is the nationwide vet advisor for this species. Much of the information known about this species is because of the collaboration between Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoo, Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand and The Zoological Parks Organization of 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.