Clouded leopards are little known, very beautiful cats native to parts of Asia. Clouded leopards are one of two cat species featured on Asia Trail.
With a tail nearly as long as its body and an ability to leap from one tree limb to another, the clouded leopard is a wonderful animal to watch.
Because of deforestation and hunting, clouded leopards are vulnerable to extinction. National Zoo scientists, working at the Zoo's Conservation and Research Center (CRC) in Front Royal, Virginia, and in Thailand, have contributed greatly to clouded leopard research and reproduction. More than 70 clouded leopards have been born at CRC in the past 30 years, including two born in 2009. more
At Asia Trail, visitors may get an up-close treetop view of two young clouded leopards. Both cats have shady spots in the exhibit where they like to hide, but Tai (the male) is often seen sleeping or lounging up high on the perching branch.
People have a chance to see the cats bounce from limb to limb and take a nap up in the branches. The exhibit area offers two "Look Stations" at which visitors can click their way through Viewmaster-like slideshows that tell stories of Zoo conservation science. Another exhibit element introduces the clouded leopard's special adaptations to its environment in the wild. Video of clouded leopards in Thailand, touchable objects, and other sensory elements are incorporated into this "How to Read a Clouded Leopard" exhibit. Finally, a balance branch built right into the exhibit's decking gives children a chance to run along thin "tree branches," testing their balance against the animals'.