Pittsburgh zoo’s clouded leopard cub has a new mate | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh zoo’s clouded leopard cub has a new mate

Brian C. Rittmeyer
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
JD, a young clouded leopard, explores his outdoor enclosure at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s young clouded leopard plays with her new partner, JD, who was brought in from the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Rukai, a 7-month-old clouded leopard, slinks through her outdoor enclosure at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Clouded leopards Rukai (bottom) and JD (top) play at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

There’s a new couple at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

JD, a young clouded leopard, has been brought in as a partner for Rukai, the zoo announced.

Rukai was born March 14 at the zoo. She is named for a Taiwanese tribe that believes clouded leopards protect them. Kansas, a cub from the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kan., was brought to Pittsburgh in May to be her companion.

JD, a young clouded leopard, arrived recently to be a potential partner for 7-month-old Rukai. JD, about 5 months old, comes from the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

Mammal keeper Mark McDonough said that after a little trepidation, the cats began to bond and play together. Things were going so well inside that they allowed the pair into the outside exhibit, where they’ve been climbing trees and chasing each other.

“This is all good behavior — baby play,” McDonough said.

Clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable, one step below endangered, with fewer than 10,000 left in the wild. Their population began to drastically decline about 15 years ago.

“With this species, we need to introduce males and females very early on in their lifespan for introductions to do well,” he said. “Before a year old is usually what we look at for introducing a male and female together.”

McDonough said the pair won’t breed until both are mature — about 2 years old.

With JD’s arrival, Kansas has moved back to Tanganyika Wildlife Park, according to Karen Vacco, assistant curator of mammals.

“This is the best scenario for all three cubs,” Vacco said. “Kansas now will be able to be with a new mate back in Tanganyika Wildlife Park, and we’re hopeful that JD and Rukai will continue to be a perfect match.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer and Megan Guza are a Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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