Clouded Leopards: Getting to Know the Boys

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Haui-san is not afraid of our photographer!

See previous post, Clouded Leopards: Beautiful Boys Arrive.

In the first days following their arrival in the San Diego Zoo’s nursery, we began to find out a little bit about the individual personality of each of these two clouded leopard cubs. The boys are distinct and different from one another, apparent right from the start. Each boy has a distinct personality all his own, and the two are unmistakable as individuals.

Haui-san, the smaller of the two cubs, is nimble, agile, and steady. He is wonderfully calm in novel situations, accepting new keepers, new toys, and new experiences. Even loud noises and distractions are no problem for Haui. Ever unflappable and reasonable, Haui’s even temper and playful nature won us all over immediately.

Rikki-san, the larger of the two cubs, is noticeably handsome; with rich and beautiful black dots and swirls, his “clouds” are unbelievably complex and gorgeous. Rikki is impressively powerful and strong. Despite his size, Rikki is a little bit more nervous when he encounters new things. Rikki tends to retreat to a corner or take cover when he is unsure. He also is a bit tubby, so he is slower than his brother at play. Handsome Riki is easy to love as he relaxes or plays, very happy to watch his more nimble brother when he is too tired to participate.

Before the boys arrived in the nursery, we selected some toys for them from our enrichment toy box. We realized very soon, however, that most of our choices wouldn’t do for these boys. Many of the toys quickly fell by the wayside as they were chewed up. Little enrichment toys were replaced with larger, more durable ones. A favorite activity is attacking a lure toy, a squeaky toy tied at the end of a strong leash and dragged around. This toy produces some hilarious recreational sessions as each cub fiendishly plots against his brother for possession of the squeaky toy. The cubs jump all over the room, from chairs, cat trees, and boxes, to lunge at the lure. These cubs just love new experiences for play, and our challenge is to keep them busy and engaged and to provide them with plenty of healthy exercise.

Here’s more info about clouded leopards…

Janet Hawes is a lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo.