A rare clouded leopard - the first cat to diverge from the common ancestors of all big cats millions of years ago - has been born at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
The tiny tropical nocturnal predator, named JD, is "eating, sleeping and growing", and the zoo reported that as part of a program to ensure the clouded leopard’s survival in the wild, this little fellow will play an important role as an ambassador to the public. No wonder the zoo posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “Cloudy, with a 100% chance of making you go ‘Aww.'"
Cloud leopard known as JD | All images courtesy of Oklahoma City Zoo | Facebook
Clouded leopards are wild cats inhabiting dense forests from the foothills of the Himalayas through Northeast India and Bhutan to mainland Southeast Asia into South China. Sadly, though, they have disappeared entirely from several nations like Vietnam and Taiwan. Current science states that the clouded leopard is the first cat that genetically diverged around 7 million years ago from the common ancestor of the pantherine cats.
Its head-and-body length ranges from 68 to 108 cm (27 to 42 inches) with a 61 to 91 cm (24 to 36 inch) long tail. Clouded leopards have incredible dexterity, and can climb down trees head first and are able to hang from tree branches by bending their hind paws and tail around a tree limb. They can climb onto horizontal branches whilst hanging with their back to the ground like a monkey.
Clouded leopard pups love to play - they chase, they harry, they mock-fight, and they mimic their elders. In other words, they’re engaging in a crucial developmental exercise to prepare themselves for adulthood. Have a look at this 3 minute video by Smithsonian to discover more...