Singapore, 29 June 2011Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals, recently celebrated the first birth of its clouded leopards, an endangered wild cat. The arrival of the pair of cubs is a major achievement for Night Safari as clouded leopards are notoriously difficult to breed. The high frequency of aggression between the two genders of the beautifully patterned predator sometimes results in the death of the female during mating in wild populations.

Named for the cloud-like spots on its coat, the clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species, little is known about the behavior or population numbers of the wild species because of their enigmatic nature.

The parents of the new arrivals, father Tawan and mother Wandee, arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo two years ago. Since then, keepers at the Night Safari have been hoping to kick start a breeding programme between the two and has been waiting for them to reach breeding age.

Mr Kumar Pillai, Director of Zoology at Night Safari said: “The park has been studying various ways of increasing the success rate of captive breeding of clouded leopards for some time now, such as introducing the pair at an early age to promote bonding and lessen aggression. We have also paired an older female with a younger male as she will be more experienced and capable of defending herself. We are very pleased that our efforts have paid off with the birth of not just one, but two clouded leopard cubs.”

Wild populations of clouded leopards are fast declining as a result of the loss of habitat and are highly sought after in the illegal wildlife trade for their skin and bones. Globally, there are fewer than an estimated 10,000 mature individuals in the wild, with no single population numbering more than 1,000.

This further increases the pressure on wildlife institutions to establish viable captive breeding programmes.

The Night Safari is run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which also operates award winning parks Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming river-themed wildlife park, River Safari. All three parks are actively involved in the captive breeding of endangered species and take part in coordinated global breeding programmes with reputable zoological institutions around the world. To date, WRS has successfully bred endangered wildlife such as the Bali Mynah, white rhinoceros and the Red-shanked douc langur.