An endangered clouded leopard gave birth to a healthy cub at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium last week.
Zoological staff members are providing round- the-clock feedings and care for the half-pound cub, said zoo General Curator Karen Goodrowe Beck.
“We are delighted with the birth of this cub,” she added. “Clouded leopards are very endangered and every one is a precious addition to the population.”
He is the third litter born to Chai Li (pronounced Chai-lye) and her mate Nah Fun (pronounced Nah- foon).
They are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which manages and maintains a population of these highly endangered cats. The mating of Chai Li and Nah Fun was approved as part of that plan.
The cub, born at about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, is being bottle-fed and will be hand-reared by zoo staff with extensive experience in the care of these exotic cats. This is routine for the species and has produced the best results in terms of health and well-being of newborn clouded leopard cubs.
In the meantime, an endangered Sumatran tiger cub, born at the zoo two weeks ago, continues to thrive and gain weight. The female cub, who was about 2.5 pounds at birth on April 17, now weighs 6.2 pounds. Zoological staff are hand-rearing her as well because she was not getting the milk and atten- tion she needed from her mother, 10-year-old Jaya. Neither cub has a name yet. The zoo will announce how and when they will be named and when visitors will be able to see them.
“These cats are very rare in zoos and in the wild,” Goodrowe Beck said of the clouded leopard and Sumatran tiger cubs. “We hope visitors to our zoo will connect with them and be inspired to take action to help save their species in the wild.” News of the new addition came as the zoo was already celebrating the unveiling of its Stingray Cove, which opened Saturday, giving visitors the opportunity to reach into the water and touch five species of stingrays.
The exhibit brings a new level of excitement to the zoo, headlining an exciting summer season that will be filled with the wonder of animals in the water as well as on land. Varied shapes and colors of stingrays inhabit the 1,000-gallon tank, some swimming placidly in the clear water as human hands dip in to gently touch them and feel their somewhat velvety surfaces.
Others lie camouflaged in the sandy bottom, barely visible as if hiding from predators in the ocean. A stingray touch pool and an adjacent glass fronted tank are set into volcanic like rock, providing the ambiance of a faraway cove. A four tiered waterfall burbles in the background, next to a lagoon filled with a variety of coral reef inhabitants.
“We’re delighted to present Stingray Cove to visitors at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium,” Neil Allen, the zoo’s curator of aquatic animals, said. “It fits our mission of helping our visitors appreciate the great diversity of the world’s land and sea animals. Allowing them to touch these animals provides an even greater connection to nature.”