Clouded Leopard Cubs at the Nashville Zoo   6 comments

DSC_6227The main reason we were interested in going to the Nashville Zoo was to see the clouded leopard cubs. The Nashville Zoo as one of the most successful breeding programs for this endangered cat. Earlier this year, four cubs were born. At least two were earmarked for other zoos. A cub born around the same time was brought to Nashville from the National Zoo in Washington, DC. This is a common strategy for breeding clouded leopards–get the potential couple together at an early age results in more success. So, there were five clouded leopard cubs.

Quite frankly, we were entranced. We probably spent about a quarter of a time just watching them–sleeping, bouncing on each other, and just being cute kittens. They are simply amazing animals, that are absolutely unique among the felids. It’s also not that often you get so see so many baby animals romping around. Even at that young age, they are masters of their habitat.

I took literally hundreds of pictures of them. It’s easy to do with small, active things. Every time I saw them do something cute, almost as soon as the shutter snapped, they were topping it. I heard a professional on a podcast explained that if one out of a hundred photos was good, he was happy. As an amateur, my standard isn’t quite as high for “good,” so there are more you’ll see in this post.

Clouded leopards are adapted to live in trees–they will spend most of their time there.
Clouded Leopard Belly
Apologies for the annoying reflection from lights on the glass.

Two Cubs in a Tree

Their long tail helps them balance as they navigate tree branches, and can go along a limb upside down, or descend a tree head-first.
Descending Head-First

Big paws with big claws allow for sure-footed movement.
Clouded Leopard Claws

I Can Almost Reach It

Leaping from a tree to a fence is second nature to them.
Clouded Leopard Leap!

Hanging from a Fence

Or even just hopping up on a branch.
Hopping Up on a Branch

These cubs didn’t know how special they were (aside from the inherent specialness of being a cat, of course). They were just little cubs who liked romping with each other.
Photobomb Level: Clouded Leopard!

Clouded Leopard Belly (2)


Ignoring the Sibling
“My brother bit me on the butt, and I just ignored him, because if you respond to him, it just makes it worse.”

Happy Clouded Leopard

Clouded Leopard Slurp
Three hanging around

The cubs could be sweet together, too.
Clouded Leopard Piggyback Ride

Wet Behind the Ears

Two Cubs on a Rock

Two on a Branch

When viewing the clouded leopards, you were in a “hut,” with windows facing two enclosures. The cubs were in an enclosure usually used by the red panda. More than once, I heard someone come up and complain about the lack of a firefox. I didn’t quite get it. These cubs were simply amazing to watch…
Climbing a Tree

…even if a bit goofy.
Big Tongue

The other side of the hut was the normal spot for clouded leopards, occupied by mom and dad. More than once I heard someone ask why they were separated from the cubs–none of whom were parents.
Dozing Parents

The other comment I heard was that the adults were as cute as the cubs.
Being Watched by Dad

I couldn’t agree more–they were absolutely stunning!
Papa Cloudd Leopard

The cubs were just as adaptable to being on the ground as the trees, stalking each other.
Stalking Cub

Sitting Clouded Leopard

Ultimately, they settled down.
Laying on a Rock

Lazy Clouded Leopard

Just Hanging Around

These really are amazing cats, ones that are not well known, and little is known about them. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling. You can learn more about efforts to save them at the Clouded Leopard Project.
Hugging a Rock

6 responses to “Clouded Leopard Cubs at the Nashville Zoo

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  1. They are so beautiful and amazing. I am just in awe.

  2. beautiful pictures, Mr. Guilt. stunning.

  3. Great pictures!! I am madly in love with these cats. I can’t get over their magnificent coats, biiiig puffy tails and beautiful faces. Thank you, as always, for sharing your lovely photography!

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  6. You got some truly amazing pictures of those little fellas! Nicely done! And good job getting me pumped to go to the Zoo this weekend! =)

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