Endangered species
5:16 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Two clouded leopard cubs born at Point Defiance Zoo

Two endangered clouded leopard cubs were born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this morning.

The cubs, one female and one male, are healthy and weigh about half a pound each. For safety reasons, they'll be hand-raised by zoo staff rather than the mama leopard.

Staff biologist Andy Goldfarb says, "There's nothing more adorable than clouded leopard cubs."  He says the newborns are eating and sleeping normally.

The cubs are out of public view for now, but in a few weeks they'll be moved into the zoo's cub den, where visitors can watch staff feed and care for them.

This is the second litter for Chai Li and her mate, Nah Fun. The clouded leopards gave birth to their first litter last June.

Point Defiance Zoo, Nashville Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo are the only zoos in the country that breed clouded leopards. 

Zoo officials say clouded leopards live mostly in the forest of Southeast Asia. But massive clear-cutting to make way for the expansion of oil palm plantations has threatened their populations. The number of clouded leopards in the wild is unknown because the cats are so difficult to study. 

Fewer than 65 clouded leopards live in 24 accredited American zoos.