Clouded Leopards are named for their large cloud shaped spots. They really are not leopards, but a unique species thought to be a bridge between “Big Cats” like lions, tigers and true leopards, and the smaller wild cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots. There are four subspecies known to have existed. One is now thought to be extinct .
All Clouded Leopards are disappearing in the wild due to habitat loss and their highly prized fur – that fur still sold for coats, bags and other vanity “fashion” items around the world (Sometimes sold as Lippi Cat – a term invented for a nonexistent species used by less than honest dealers for everything from illegally obtained fur to domestic cat to hybrid mixed species…Just google the term and one finds everyone from Nordstroms to Niemans to eBay selling “Lippi Cat”…but I digress).
These beautiful animals, that range from Nepal to southern China and into Sumatra, Borneo, and Java (they had once lived in Taiwan but are now thought to be extinct in the wild), are listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range; “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List – probability of extinction during the next 20 years is at least 10%; and listed in CITES Appendix I – it cannot be traded commercially. This doesn’t stop people from killing and skinning them.
In March, the Denver Zoo announced the birth of Clouded Leopard twins at the zoo….
Like many wild cats born in captivity, their mother was unable to care for them so they became wards of the zookeepers – hand fed and kept in isolation until they grew strong enough and old enough to be introduced to the public. This week, they made their debut.
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