Yeah, I know, a clouded leopard cub has graced the weekly cute once before. But OMGZ how could I not post this picture?
From the National Zoo a la Zooborns
Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), by the way, are a vulnerable species of cat found in Southeast Asia. They're fairly small, growing only to around 50lbs - smaller than your average Labrador Retriever. It's a very difficult cat to find in the wild, so little is known about its behavior outsize zoos, and population estimates are rough at best. The World Conservation Union estimates fewer than 10,000 leopards exist, and believe the population is trending downwards. Clouded Leopards are listed as under Appendix I of CITES and on the U.S. Endangered Species Act, both of which outlaw the trade in the animals or any parts or products from them, and in Asia where the cat calls home, hunting is prohibited. Still, poaching remains a problem, and hunting combined with habitat loss is putting these amazing felines in serious danger. Captive breeding programs, like the one the National Zoo is a part of, are trying to learn more about the cats and provide a genetic reservoir for wild populations.