Submitted by Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
At least two endangered clouded leopard cubs are expected in the Asian Forest Sanctuary area at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in a few weeks.
And not to be outdone, four sets of Magellanic penguins are nesting on eggs in their exhibit near the North Pacific Aquarium.
Next month could be Mothers’ May at the zoo in more than one regard.
An ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy in 6-year-old clouded leopard Chai Li (pronounced Chai-lye), who has given birth to five cubs in three previous litters, zoo General Curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said.
Six-year-old Nah Fun (pronounced Nah-foon) is the father.
The cubs are due around May 12. Mother’s Day is May 10.
Across zoo grounds, four pairs of prospective penguin parents are taking turns sitting on eggs that were laid between March 30 and April 13. One penguin pair has two eggs; the other three pair have one egg each. Male and female penguins share the nesting duties.
If the eggs are fertile, they would hatch in mid- to late May. Penguins can take 38 to 42 days to develop and emerge from their eggs.
All four of the females would be first-time moms.
Three of them arrived at Point Defiance Zoo in 2011 from a rehabilitation facility in Brazil. They could not be released back into the wild. The fourth female was hatched at Blank Park Zoo in Iowa and arrived in Tacoma in 2010. All of the penguin moms-in-waiting are 5 years old.
One of the males also came to Point Defiance Zoo from the rehabilitation facility in Brazil. He, too, is 5. The other three males were hatched at Point Defiance Zoo and range in age from 8 to 10.
Magellanic penguins are native to southern coastal regions of South America and can grow to about 27 inches high. The species is listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Clouded leopards are listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium participates in Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan managed breeding programs for clouded leopards and Magellanic penguins. The zoo has breeding recommendations for both species.
“We are delighted at the prospect of adding to the populations and genetic diversity of these two animal species,” Goodrowe Beck said.
For more information, visit Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium online.