Surprise leopard kittens are all silver lining


Photo by Tracy Woodward, WaPo

Yesterday, zookeepers at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center discovered two newborn clouded leopard cubs in the enclosure of their mother, Jao Chu. This is a big deal because it is notoriously difficult to breed clouded leopards in captivity: males can attack and kill females with whom they aren't properly bonded, and captive mothers often inadvertently or deliberately kill their cubs. Because of that risk, these two cubs were taken from Jao Chu to be raised by human researchers.

Jao Chu and her mate Hannibal were imported from Thailand last year; the cubs make a total of 16 clouded leopards in captivity at the National Zoo. There are thought to be fewer than 10,000 clouded leopards worldwide.

No word if or when the public will be allowed to view the cubs, but you can see a photo gallery of the ubercute twins at the WaPo.

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Darn, just missed them. Photos of the new baby gorilla, though, will go up tomorrow.