October 10, 2019

A New Cat in Town!

New Clouded Leopard, JD, Joins Zoo

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(Pittsburgh) (October 2019)—The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is excited to welcome a new young clouded leopard male named JD as a partner for the Zoo’s young female clouded leopard, Rukai.

JD moved to Pittsburgh from the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere and was immediately introduced to Rukai to make sure they would be a good fit. Keepers watched as the pair was a little cautious around each other at first, keeping their distance by moving to opposite ends of the indoor play area. But keepers breathed a sigh of relief when the pair began playing with each other within the hour.
“We were thrilled to see how fast they accepted each other,” says Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “The next step is to introduce the pair to the outside yard.”
This concept of introducing young, genetically valuable male and female clouded leopards began about ten years ago, when the clouded leopard population first began to drastically decline. It was determined that the previous method of introducing males and females at older ages was not achieving the desired results to help save the species. Now, zoos and wildlife organizations like the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere are using this new approach to enable the cubs to grow up together and hopefully reproduce once they are older.
With JD’s recent arrival to the Pittsburgh Zoo, five-month-old clouded leopard Kansas has moved back to her original home at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas.

Kansas came to the Pittsburgh Zoo back in May 2019 as a companion to Rukai. However, with both cubs growing quickly, it was determined that Kansas could move back to her original home and JD could be introduced to Rukai.

“This is the best scenario for all three cubs,” says Vacco. “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 respond well to each other for future breeding here.”

Clouded leopards are listed as endangered, with fewer than 10,000 left in the wild. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is American Humane Conservation-certified, a member of American Humane, and a member of the Zoological Association of America. For more information, visit zaa.org.