September 15, 2014

Clouded Leopard Cubs At Houston Zoo


Two clouded leopard cubs that were born at the Houston Zoo three months ago made their public debut this week, and since then have inspired conservation efforts for this endangered species.

These cute cubs, named Koshi and Senja, made headlines and stole the hearts of many, earning them the nickname "precious playboys" after photos showed them playing in the grass before their public introduction. Not only do the 3-month-old cats bring in zoo visitors, but they are also the new ambassadors for conservation efforts on behalf of their species.

"Clouded leopard, like many other species, face extinction if nothing is done to stop habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation," Benoit Goossens, director at the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysia, told the Houston Chronicle via email.
By boosting ticket sales, the cubs are both generating revenue to support conservation and providing a living argument in favor of having some animals live in captivity.
Just last month the center used money earned, in part from Houston, to tag to a wild female clouded leopard for the first time. Conservationists hope that information gathered from the satellite tag can help in preserving the animals' dwindling rainforest habitat.

"Capitalizing on the times of something new is a wonderful celebration," Shelly Grow, director of conservation programs at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, told the Chronicle. "It's pretty hard to turn down the appeal of the baby leopards ... I think it's hugely important that people are excited and inspired by the animals they see."

This Asian cat roams the rainforests of Indonesia as well as the foothills of the Nepali Himalayas, according to National Geographic. Although little is known about their habitat and population size, these mysterious leopards are considered an endangered species.
The Chronicle reports that development of rainforests for the sake of palm oil plantations is a major driving factor of habitat destruction.

Although some still argue against keeping animals in captivity, for now, Koshi and Senja are content jumping around from tree to tree in their zoo habitat.

With thanks to NWN

Picture below from NatGeo and the caption reads:
'Somewhere between the small cats, which can purr, and the big cats, which can roar, are the clouded leopards that make their home in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.'

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