"The kitten is healthy and doing everything a newborn should be doing – eating, sleeping and growing!"
He may be "clouded" but this cub is sure to brighten your day.
The Oklahoma City Zoo recently announced the arrival of a rare, clouded leopard kitten. The zoo’s female clouded leopard, Ruaki, gave birth to the male kitten on July 18 at the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat.
The news was shared in a post on the zoo’s Facebook page on Saturday, revealing that the kitten was born after a 90-day gestation period.
“Caretakers report the kitten is healthy and doing everything a newborn should be doing – eating, sleeping and growing!” the post read.
The OKC Zoo is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA's) Species Survival Plan for clouded leopards. “Because this is such a significant birth and the first birth of 2023 for this vulnerable species, the SSP recommended the Zoo’s animal care experts hand-rear the kitten to ensure he thrives,” the post continued. “Immediately following the kitten’s birth, the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers stepped in and began providing round-the-clock care for this little cloudie.”
OKC Zoo’s Curator of Carnivores, Tyler Boyd, tells PEOPLE that "each clouded leopard birth in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA’s) Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program is vital to saving this population."
"The OKC Zoo’s expert carnivore and veterinary care teams were able to monitor Rukai throughout her pregnancy with routine, voluntary ultrasounds to track the growth and development of this kitten," continued Boyd. "As the kitten continues to grow, he will become another important ambassador for his species, hopefully having offspring of his own one day.”
The zoo's Facebook post added that the male kitten would be transferred to another AZA-accredited facility, and on Thursday, the Nashville Zoo announced that the male cub had arrived there "to be hand-raised and eventually paired with a mate."
According to the WWF, clouded leopards are an endangered species that are mainly found in the tropical forests of Borneo, India, Indochina, Malaysia, Sumatra and Taiwan.
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“The clouded leopard is more at home in the trees than on the ground and can move nimbly through the dense forests of southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas,” the WWF website reads. “The exact numbers of this secretive cat are not known but they are believed to be in decline due to habitat loss and poaching."
The animals are native to Nepal and Bangladesh and the smallest of the big cat species, according to the OKC Zoo. "Researchers estimate there are around 10,000 individuals in the wild."
“The species is able to climb upside down, hang from branches with its hind feet and descend from trees head first,” the website adds. “Clouded leopards in the wild are classified as vulnerable with declining populations due to human activity.”
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