The clouded leopard is named for the cloud-like spots on its coat that provide camouflage in its forest habitat.
Males weigh up to 50 pounds and females are significantly smaller, usually 25-35 pounds.Clouded leopards live in tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, from Nepal and southern China through Thailand, Indonesia, and Borneo.
Built to Climb
Clouded leopards are one of the best climbers in the cat family. They are able to climb upside down underneath tree branches and hang from branches with their hind feet.
Several adaptations allow clouded leopards to achieve these amazing arboreal skills.
Their legs are short and stout, providing excellent leverage and a low center of gravity while climbing.
Large paws with sharp claws provide a great grip on tree branches. A clouded leopard’s tail can be up to 3 feet long (the same length as its body) and is extremely important for balancing.
The hind feet have flexible ankle joints that allow the foot to rotate. This adaptation allows clouded leopards to descend, squirrel-like, head first from a tree. Like all wild cats, clouded leopards are carnivores.
They are thought to hunt a variety of prey including birds, squirrels, monkeys, deer, and wild pigs.
They can open their mouths wider than most other cats and have extremely long canine teeth to grab and kill prey. For this reason they are sometimes known as the “modern day saber-toothed cat.”
Clouded Leopard Status
Clouded leopards are an endangered species. Wild clouded leopard numbers are thought to be in decline due to hunting and loss of habitat. Because clouded leopards are so elusive and difficult to study, scientists have no accurate estimate of their population.
Spread the word: Tell your friends and families about these rare and special cats. The more people who know about them, the more they can help!
Be aware of what you buy: Did you know that what you buy makes a difference? Purchase only certified sustainable wood products that don’t contribute to tropical rainforest destruction. Not sure what’s sustainable? Just ask your retailer for certified wood.
Learn about palm oil: The production of palm oil for use in food, cosmetics, and household products is causing rapid loss of tropical rainforest.
Support clouded leopard conservation: Make a donation to help fund research and conservation efforts.
For additional information on clouded leopards and to learn more ways you can help, visit the Clouded Leopard Project.
Thailand Breeding Partnership
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is part of a collaborative effort to breed and study clouded leopards at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. This program, called the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium is a partnership between the Thailand Zoological Parks Organization, Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, and the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan. Some of the cubs born at the breeding center (including three of our six adult clouded leopards) have come to the United States to introduce important new genetic material to the zoo population.
Learn more about clouded leopards!