A pair of clouded leopards at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium became first-time parents this week with the birth of three healthy cubs.
Zoo officials said it’s too soon to tell the cubs’ genders and it’s undecided how names will be picked.
For now, keepers are bottle-feeding and hand-rearing the cubs, which were born late Wednesday.
The birth announcement went out Friday.
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“These cats are very rare,” said Karen Goodrowe Beck, the zoo’s general curator. “We hope visitors to the zoo will connect with them and be inspired to take action to help save their species in the wild.”
Keepers discovered Sang Dao, 3, was pregnant in March. Tien, also 3 and born in Tacoma, is the father.
Sang Dao came to Point Defiance three years ago from Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas, so she could be paired with Tien.
There are only 116 clouded leopards in North American zoos, 12 of which live at Point Defiance Zoo. It’s unknown whether the cubs will stay in Tacoma or be sent to other zoos that participate in the Species Survival Plan.
Last year, quadruplet clouded leopards were born in Tacoma. Two stayed – Banyan, a male; and Orchid, a female – and two males left for Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
The zoo long has been active in clouded leopard conservation and helps breed and raise the cats through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan in Thailand. Clouded leopards are native to a range that runs from the Himalayan foothills through Southeast Asia and parts of China.
Tacoma zookeepers also founded the nonprofit Clouded Leopard Project, which raises money for conservation projects.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653