The Denver Zoo is home to four clouded leopards, an endangered species that lives in Southeast Asia. Now the zoo is raising another three of these rare cubs at the Toyota Elephant Passage.
Pi, Ruhu and Saya are clouded leopards, (Neofelis nebulosa) a type of wild cat that lives in Southeast Asia. It lives in the southern parts of China and also other southeastern countries. Evergreen forests are a favorite home for this cat. The species is not really a type of leopard, but a sort of bridge between big cats and house cats.
“They look like leopards, probably where they got their names”, says Margaret Neiderer, a keeper at the Denver zoo. She says that they also play like their look-alikes, but they are still not in relationship with each other.
Leopards (Panthera pardus) are a species that is related to tigers, lions and jaguars. No relationship to the clouded leopard at all.
Pi and Ruhu, the twins born at the zoo, are the oldest of the trio. The zoo had to take care of them after their mother did not.
Lisu, their mother, started out fine, grooming them and nuzzling them, but would not nurse them. “We knew that they would die in a few hours, so we had to take matters into our own hands.” said Neiderer.
The other cub, Saya, was brought in from The National Zoo about a month later. Saya was born an only child, and this type of cat needs to interact at a young age.
The Denver Zoo would like to mate Pi and Saya later on, as well as have Ruhu mate with another leopard, but that will be done in another place, seeing as the zoo does not have much space, with four adult cats and three young ones.
The three cubs may be moving to other zoos in December through January, so come see them at the clouded leopard exhibit in the Toyota Elephant Passage!