Nebula – Clouded Leopard

Nebula is a female clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) born in March 2015. She is the namesake of the beautiful interstellar clouds such as seen in the Milky Way galaxy. As part of the Kirshner family, she will help us to collect research on behavior, health, nutrition, and soundness.

Clouded leopards are medium-sized cats, about the size of a small leopard. In proportion to their body size, this species has the longest canines of any living feline, so long that some people have compared them to the extinct saber-toothed cats. The upper canines may measure 4.0 cm or longer. The clouded leopard is named for its instantly recognizable distinctive cloud-shaped markings. It is an excellent climber, allowing it to be an apt hunter in the trees as well as on the ground. Its prey consists of both terrestrial and arboreal mammals, including hog deer, slow loris, bush-tailed porcupine, Malayan pangolin and Indochinese ground squirrel. Observational research also includes mainly primate prey, as well as muntjac and argus pheasant.

Due to its secretive nature, there is very little known of the clouded leopard’s behavior and habits in the wild; most of our knowledge about them stems from captive animals. In captivity, clouded leopards present a reproductive challenge. Unless they are introduced at a young age, there is a high incidence of aggression between males and females, which sometimes results in the death of the female. To date only about 20% of the captive population has reproduced.

The clouded leopard is only found in Southeast Asia, its range traversing the tropical and subtropical regions of southern China, the eastern Himalayas (they have been recorded at heights up to 8,200 ft), northeast India, and southeast Asia. It is extinct on the island of Taiwan. Roughly less than 10,000 live in their natural habitats, while 83 are reported to be housed in the U.S. The IUCN Red List categorizes clouded leopards as Vulnerable with a decreasing population trend. Along with deforestation (their habitat is undergoing the world’s fastest deforestation rate; over 10% in the past ten years), these diminishing numbers are also resultant of illegal wildlife trade.

Clouded Leopard Trivia: Clouded leopards are one of the best climbers in the cat family. They have very flexible ankle joints which enable them to climb down trees head first. They are also able to climb upside down underneath tree branches and hang from branches with their hind feet.

 

 Clouded Leopard Statistics:

Body Length 5.5 feet
Tail up to 3 feet
Weight 35-55 lbs
Gestation Period 86-93 days
Litter Size 1-5 average
Life Span 17 years in captivity Unknown in the Wild
Status Critically Endangered