OMG Cute! & OMG Vulnerable: Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in National Zoo (Video)
Two newborn rare and endangered clouded leopard cubs are being cared for at a National Zoo facility in Virginia. The zoo babies which were born Tuesday are the first such births there in 16 years. While currently in the good hands of man as part of on-going conservation efforts at the National Zoo, these big cats remain vulnerable in the wild. More and bonus video as scientists explain just how leopards can change their spots below the fold.The World Conservation Union estimates that fewer than 10,000 individuals exist, and warns that the population is declining. Habitat loss due to widespread deforestation and hunting for use in Chinese medicinal preparations are thought to be causing populations of the Clouded Leopard to decline. The World Conservation Union, the organization that maintains the global Red List of endangered species, lists the Clouded Leopard as Vulnerable.
The Clouded Leopard Project site, the official website of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan, is a great way learn about this amazing, endangered cat and help spread the word about its conservation needs. You can also make a symbolic adoption of a clouded leopard, the money will go to research and you or yours get a plush, stuffed animal as a constant remembrance of not what you have given, but rather what more needs to be done.
Leopards can change their spots
In 2007, scientists classified the Borneo Clouded Leopard as a new species altogether. Generally speaking, the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) has almost as many differences between them as tigers and lions. Tests have shown the animal has 40 different genetic differences to the leopard found in mainland Asia - making it an entirely new species of cat.