The Smithsonian’s National Zoo today announced the arrival of two prime candidates for the Daily Squee: A pair of clouded leopard cubs that were born on Valentine’s day.
To hear the Zoo tell it, the birth of these little guys — or gals, it’s hard to tell — is something of a minor miracle.
The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily due to male aggression, decreased mating activity between paired animals and high cub mortality. […] Since the cubs born in the Thailand breeding program are only one or two generations removed from the wild, their genes are especially valuable.
Due to deforestation and hunting, clouded leopards are listed as “vulnerable to extinction.” National Zoo scientist Dr. JoGayle Howard and colleagues have been working with clouded leopards at the Front Royal campus since 1978, with the goal of creating a genetically diverse population. In the past 30 years, more than 76 clouded leopards have been born here.