NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES BIRTH OF RARE CLOUDED LEOPARDS

– NOTORIOUSLY DIFFICULT TO BREED, THREE NEW CLOUDED LEOPARDS ARE BORN A YEAR AFTER THE PARK’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL CLOUDED LEOPARD BIRTH.

The three clouded leopard cubs are healthy and active.
Cubs are seen climbing on branches.

Singapore, 12 June 2012 – Barely a year since its first successful birth of clouded leopards, Night Safari recently welcomed another litter of clouded leopard cubs, one of the world’s rarest and secretive wild cat species. The three cubs that arrived on 14 April 2012 were born to parents Tawan and Wandee, who had their first litter in May last year.

Named for the cloud-like patterns of their coats which help them disappear into the shadows of the forest, clouded leopards are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. These cats often exhibit very aggressive courtship behaviours which sometimes results in the death of the female during mating. It is estimated that less than 20% of captive clouded leopards have been successful at reproducing because the males tend to kill their females during mating.

This second birth is a result of a planned breeding program, which saw the introduction of Tawan and Wandee at an early age to promote bonding and minimise aggression. The mating pair arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo three years ago.

“We are very pleased that our efforts have paid off once again with the birth of this second litter. For a species of big cat facing many threats, every little kitten counts. We hope that this birth will go towards sustaining and increasing the population of clouded leopards both in captivity and in the wild,” said Mr. Subash Chandran, Assistant Director, Zoology, Night Safari.

Clouded leopards are the smallest of the big cats and their highly elusive nature, coupled with nocturnal lifestyle, mean that little is known about their population size and behaviour in the wild as they are very rarely seen. Listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN*, it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Clouded leopards are found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan. Population numbers are continuing to decline throughout their natural range due to habitat loss and poaching.

Well adapted to forest life, the clouded leopard has an exceptionally long tail – as long as its body – for balancing on trees. Their flexible ankles allow them to run down trees headfirst. Clouded leopards also have the longest canines of any feline, in proportion to their body size.

Night Safari displays clouded leopards at the Leopard Trail, one of the four walking trails in the park.

Mother Wandee watches over her cubs as they explore the surroundings.
A young clouded leopard

*International Union for Conservation of Nature

NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES A RARE FIRST WITH THE BIRTH OF TWO CLOUDED LEOPARDS

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.

ENDANGERED WILD CAT IN TROUBLE FOR EXCESSIVE LICKING

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) vets treat clouded leopard’s over groomed tail tip

Singapore, 16 August 2010 – One of Night Safari’s wild cats found herself in a fix recently when she over licked the tip of her tail. Yenbai, the clouded leopard, a medium-sized cat native to Southeast Asia, was exhibiting normal feline behaviour as grooming is comforting for a cat. However, excessive licking can cause inflammation of the skin and cause it to over granulate

Fortunately, experienced vets at WRS’ Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre (WHRC) came to 13-year-old Yenbai’s rescue and treated her tail and the underlying reason why she was over grooming her tail. During the physical examination, they found an ingrown claw which was then clipped when the cat was under sedation.

Yenbai is one of 5 clouded leopards at Night Safari. Its distinctive coat, which usually has a tan or tawny base, is marked with irregularly shaped ellipses that are shaped like clouds. This nimble tree-hunter is one of the best climbers in the cat family, with the ability to hang upside down under branches and running down tree trunks head-first while pursuing its catch. The clouded leopard is mainly found in Southeast Asia, and throughout southern China, western Malaysia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Indochina. It has gone extinct in Taiwan.

Fewer than 10,000 specimens exist in the wild due to habitat loss, as well as hunting for medicinal use and their beautiful coats. It is listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union and endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act. International trade in clouded leopards is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES). Those caught smuggling endangered species in Singapore are liable to be prosecuted in court and fined a maximum of S$50,000 for each animal and/or be imprisoned for up to two years.

Yenbai was sedated during her check-up. A small wound on her tail developed after she licked it excessively. Clouded leopards have the longest upper canine teeth for its skull size of any modern carnivore, leading some to compare it with the extinct sabre-tooth cat.
During the check-up, vets at the Wildlife Research and Healthcare Centre took a blood sample, conducted an x-ray and clipped an ingrown claw. These cats are carnivores and hunt on a variety of animals including birds, squirrels, and even monkeys, deer and wild pigs.
Vets taking an abdominal radiograph. Two views are normally needed for thorough examination