Above: Kaci and zoo staff get up close and personal with the clouded leopard cubs at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma
TACOMA-- Does this sound like the ultimate in cuteness, or what?! Four balls of fur, climbing all over each other (and the humans in the room), drinking from bottles and pouncing on toes. Meet the clouded leopard quadruplet cubs at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! We had the amazing opportunity to meet and interact with them, along with Staff Biologists Andy Goldfarb, Shannon Smith, and Desi Larson.
First, some important backstory: clouded leopards are an endangered species. Living in the forests of Southeast Asia, they face ongoing dangers like poachers, and the destruction of their native habitats. Pt. Defiance is one of only roughly two dozen accredited zoos in North America that breed clouded leopards. So, to have them here in our backyard for us to learn from and enjoy, all while supporting the survival of the species, is a huge deal.
The cubs, just two months old, are still being bottle-fed by their human counterparts, and eat meat as well. The three boys and one girl are named Banyan, Kapok, Teak, and Orchid. We helped feed them, allowed our toes to be nipped at, and watched as one climbed into Goldfarb's hair with a yawn to take a nap. (Really. Watch the video!)
In addition, the zoo works closely with the nonprofit Clouded Leopard Project (started by Tacoma zookeepers 15 years ago) to raise money for conservation projects, which involve zoo staff supporting the species with work in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.
You can meet the clouded leopard cubs for yourself at Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now! For visiting hours and more information, please click HERE. For more information on how you can help with the conservation programs for these wonderful animals, click HERE.
Below: More with the clouded leopard cubs and the zoo's conservation efforts.