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National Zoo's clouded leopard cubs are healthy, thriving

May 15, 2009 |  9:52 pm

Clouded leopard cubs at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center

The rare clouded leopard cubs born in late March at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center are healthy and thriving under the care of their keepers, the zoo reports.

The two cubs, both males, have begun eating solid food (cooked chicken) in addition to their formula.  They've also started "chuffing," a type of vocalization in which they make a puffing sound.  It's the first vocalization they've made other than the indignant noises they make when they're hungry, the zoo says.

The zoo has a great deal invested in the well-being of the two, so the report is great news.  Clouded leopards are severely endangered in their native southeast Asia because of deforestation and hunting. Additionally, the species' aggressive tendencies make breeding in captivity an especially difficult undertaking; the cubs' birth is the first in a North American zoo in six years and the first at the National Zoo's facility in 16.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: The cubs in a May 13 photo. Credit: Mehgan Murphy / AFP/Getty Images.

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