(Photo: Ingrid Barrentine / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium)
KIRO-TV – Seattle
Four clouded leopard cubs are healthy, growing and adorable at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, Seattle's KIRO-TV reports. Their eyes are still closed, and the practiced hands of caring zookeepers guide their eager mouths to the bottles.
The smallest of the cubs weighs just 11.11 ounces and the largest is 12.41, which is about the same weight as a box of corn flakes. Two of them will fit in the palms of a zookeeper's hands.
They are not yet on exhibit. The zoo will announce later this month when the public will be able to see them and reveal details on how and when they'll be named.
One feeding session for all four cubs takes about two hours, and the cubs require feeding about every three hours. There is a lot of care besides giving bottles of formula that must be done for each cub, Goldfarb said.
Hand-raising cubs is routine in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program for clouded leopards and produces the best results for their health and well-being, zoo General Curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said.
"These cats are precious," Goldfarb said. "Clouded leopards are endangered, and there is constant pressure on the species from poaching, habitat loss and other human-animal conflict."