The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium issued an exciting birth announcement on Monday: Sang Dao, one of the zoo’s endangered clouded leopards, is pregnant with at least three cubs. She’s due at the end of March.
Sang Dao, along with her partner Tien, are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan for clouded leopards. Sang Dao and Tien are first-time parents.
The elusive cats live in the forests and trees of Southeast Asia, and are endangered due to habitat destruction. The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has been instrumental in the preservation of the cats, working with zookeepers in Thailand to find ways to breed and raise clouded leopards. There are only 113 clouded leopards in North American zoos.
It’s not easy to figure out if a clouded leopard is pregnant, it takes quite a bit of science. And part of that includes examining stool samples. Zookeepers began collecting samples earlier this year.
“It takes a combination of science, art, and extensive knowledge of animal behavior to determine a pregnancy in a felid such as a clouded leopard or tiger,” Karen Goodrowe Beck, general curator, said.
Clouded Leopards have a short gestation period of 88-90 days, and without the zookeepers’ testing, a pregnancy wouldn’t show until about day 60. Determining pregnancy early isn’t about planning a baby shower, it means the zoo can best prepare for birth. Three cubs would boost the clouded leopard population, which is important for animal lovers everywhere.