Pittsburgh zoo’s clouded leopard cub has a new mate
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.
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 is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .