Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Clouded leopard at the National Zoo


Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Species: Neofelis nebulosa


Clouded leopards typically weigh about 28 pounds and are about 36 inches long (not including the tail, which is usually 30 inches long). Their fur ranges from pale yellow to brown with darker cloud-like markings. They have relatively short legs and large paws. Clouded leopards' long tails help them balance on narrow branches and jump safely from tree to tree.

Distribution and Habitat:

This species of clouded leopard ranges from countries of the Himalayas, southern China, and Taiwan to peninsula Malaysia. In 2006, scientists determined that the clouded leopards living on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo are a distinct species, Neofelis diardi.

Rarely seen in the wild, there is some controversy as to whether the clouded leopard is an arboreal species—strongly tied to dense tropical evergreen forest—or a terrestrial hunter that uses roads and trails in logged forests. The answer is probably somewhere in between—the clouded leopard can hunt both in trees and on the ground. These cats can also live in drier forests if there is suitable prey.


The clouded leopard’s diet includes birds, monkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, deer, and porcupines.


Litters of two to five young are born after a gestation of 86 to 93 days. Young suckle for five months, and males usually develop faster than females.


Clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Animals. They are threatened by a high demand for their attractive pelts, which have ceremonial meaning in Taiwan. Due to the reclusive nature of the clouded leopard, it is difficult to assess how many remain in the wild, but they are highly endangered in some areas, and only relatively stable in others. Deforestation, habitat destruction, and poaching are major concerns for the future of the clouded leopard. more

Fun Facts

Relative to body size, clouded leopards' long canines are the largest of all living cats'.

Large paws with long, sharp claws help clouded leopards climb trees. Their grip is so firm that the leopards can even hang upside down from tree branches.

At the Zoo

Clouded leopards are bred at the Zoo's facility in Front Royal, Virginia (SCBI). They are part of an international program to conserve the species, which is threatened by deforestation and hunting. National Zoo scientists have contributed greatly to clouded leopard research and reproduction. more


Photos of the clouded leopards born at the Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia can be viewed on Flickr.