The San Diego Zoo’s first clouded leopard arrived from Singapore in 1940. We continued to house single cats until 1974, when we received a pair of cloudeds. In 1978, that pair produced our first clouded leopard cub.
Currently, the Zoo has two clouded leopards trained as animal ambassadors—Haui-San and Kya—and a youngster, Ganda, who has just started her ambassador training. They make appearances on television and can often be seen during the Zoo’s Backstage Pass encounter or out strolling Zoo grounds on leash with a trainer for some exercise. We are proud to be able to share these beautiful cats with our guests, giving them some insight about the behaviors of a vulnerable species.
Considering its size, the clouded leopard is very secretive and has been difficult for researchers to study in the wild. Never common, its population numbers are dropping outside of protected areas. Its rain forest habitat is often divided into small, unconnected patches of forest by industrial logging and the development of agricultural areas, including vast palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
As is true of all rain forest dwellers, the clouded leopards’ main threat to survival is continued habitat loss from a growing number of farms. And although protected by law, the cat is still illegally hunted for its beautiful coat, and some Asian cultures mistakenly believe clouded leopard bones and teeth have healing powers.
A new species!
Clouded leopards living on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra were re-classified as a separate clouded leopard species in 2006: the Sunda or Diardi’s clouded leopard Neofelis diardi. This “new” species is a bit darker and has longer upper canines than the clouded leopards found on Asia’s mainland, Neofelis nebulosa. We still have much to learn about these fascinating felines!
San Diego Zoo Global supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for clouded leopards. You can help us bring cat species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.