For the first time in the Toronto Zoo’s history, two Clouded Leopard cubs were born on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13 to mom Pavarti and dad Mingma.
Pavarti is a first-time mother and she initially showed maternal instincts. However, Pavarti started spending less time with her cubs and was not observed nursing or mothering them. Wildlife Care staff monitored the new family by camera throughout the night and the cubs were checked by a veterinarian on Sunday. Fluids were given to the cubs to help them through the critical first 24 hours.
Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the tiny cubs and on Monday morning, they decided to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the zoo’s new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre. After receiving neonatal care, the cubs’ health stabilized.
Fortunately, when they discovered Pavarti was pregnant the zoo developed a Clouded Leopard hand-rearing protocol just in case Pavarti failed to care for her cubs. The protocol is based on best practices shared by other zoos with experience hand-rearing these cats.
The two cubs are thriving under their keepers’ care. They have gone from weighing around six ounces each at birth to nearly 14 ounces each at about three weeks of age. The two cubs have fully opened their eyes, have discovered their ‘meow,’ and are even starting to walk.
Pavarti and Mingma both came to the Toronto Zoo from the Nashville Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan, which is a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
Clouded Leopards are medium-sized Cats found in the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia and China. Experts place the total population of mature individuals at about 10,000. Clouded Leopards are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Threats include habitat loss, resulting in forested areas that are too small to support viable Clouded Leopard populations, and commercial poaching. Clouded Leopard body parts are used in traditional Asian medicine, despite the fact that they have no medicinal properties.