Oklahoma Zoo Welcomes Rare Clouded Leopard Cub: 'We Are Thrilled By the Progress She's Making'
The arrival of a female clouded leopard kitten is brightening up the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.
The clouded leopard cub was born on Aug. 6 after a 90-day gestation period, ABC affiliate KOCO News 5 reports. The baby animal's arrival marks the first successful birth for mom Rukai and her mate JD, a two-year-old male leopard.
"The kitten appears very strong and healthy, and we are thrilled by the progress she's making," said Tyler Boyd, the OKC Zoo's curator of carnivores.
Boyd added, "For myself and the entire team, the opportunity to care for this offspring, who is incredibly valuable to the conservation of this critically vulnerable species, is a career highlight."
The kitten is receiving hands-on care from the zoo's experts, as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. After she was born, carnivore caretakers took action, moving the kitten to a climate-controlled incubator and bottle feeding her with a special formula.
The zoo shared in a press release that the little leopard is "doing everything a newborn should be doing" and has now fully opened her eyes, marking a milestone in her development. According to the zoo, clouded leopards usually open their eyes two weeks after being born.
The newborn's parents moved to the Oklahoma City Zoo in December 2019 after being paired together through the Species Survival Plan. The zoo is hopeful the couple will continue to breed and produce more offspring in the future.
Clouded leopards, native to Nepal and Bangladesh, are listed as "Vulnerable," with decreasing numbers by the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction, poaching, and pet trading.
While exact numbers are hard to come by, experts say only about 10,000 clouded leopards are left in the wild.
The zoo's kitten is busy growing with the help of caretakers, but she'll eventually be paired with a mate and sent to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited organization.