African servals, exotic cats as pets

Clouded Leopards
Clouded Heaven, by Judy Bearens
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They had formerly resided in a spotlessly clean but spartan cage, - so I set out in advance of their arrival to create “clouded heaven”.

Having read every piece of literature I could find on the habits and preferences of clouded leopards both in captivity and in the wild, I settled on a selection of amenities.

She has bonded with me to the point that she will allow me to give her injections and clip her nails. She comes out to greet me when I enter the enclosure and call to her. Talk about an honor! He, on the other hand, is not yet very trusting.

I have the luxury of being able to observe my cats at all hours and they really do come alive just before dusk.

I sometimes feed after dark, especially when the weather is very hot and I usually find them cruising around and mock hunting each other.

So now, a year after their arrival, though it does not appear that they intend to breed, they are happier, fitter and friendlier then they have ever been.

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My ongoing attempt to create a “natural habitat” for two clouded leopards

I have been enchanted with clouded leopards for what seems like forever. My acquisition of two clouded leopards just over a year ago sent me into a frenzy of habitat building. The two, 7 and 8 years of age had not been handled since they were cubs. They had formerly resided in a spotlessly clean but spartan cage, - so I set out in advance of their arrival to create “clouded heaven”. I drew and re-drew layouts and plans.

Finally I decided on an area away form all of my larger cats where they could enjoy some well deserved privacy. The basic blueprint of the enclosure is a 20 by 48 foot rectangle divided into three sections with doors connecting the sections. There are lock out double-doors on each end and an additional door allows entry to the middle section. All three sections have a view of a wide canal where many wading birds gather.

My concept was not really original – I was hoping that a hitherto non-breeding pair would be enticed to normal breeding behavior if they were content with their surrounds. At 7 and 8 years of age they had never bred. History was against me and the female’s multiple health problems, cataracts, low thyroid, chronic bladder infections and a wide variety of allergies further complicated things. Most of her conditions are now under control. She has bonded with me to the point that she will allow me to give her injections and clip her nails. She comes out to greet me when I enter the enclosure and call to her. Talk about an honor! He, on the other hand, is not yet very trusting.

Having read every piece of literature I could find on the habits and preferences of clouded leopards both in captivity and in the wild, I settled on a selection of amenities. I spoke with Rick Swartz at the Nashville Zoo. He has had phenomenal success breeding cloudeds and was wiling to share his knowledge of habitat design.

The enclosure walls are standard 8-foot tall, 9-gauge chain link. To accommodate aerial actives the roof is pitched to a height of 12 foot down the centerline. There is a “his” and “her” section and a “their’s” section in between. The center section replicates a jungle. Thick areca palm clusters several feet in diameter and 10 foot tall were added to an existing majesty palm that canopy high above the roof level. Logs, an 18-inch diameter, 6-foot long tube and a barrel to simulate a den are nestled among ferns, mulched paths and mondo grass. Alocasias, which look like elephant ears, seasonal flowers and a pre-cast rock water fountain, complete the feel. The bench for me was an afterthought, but I find that the female likes to lie on it to sun herself.

The his and hers sections are 12 by 16 foot decks, which hold two sets of double decker platforms with hanging log walkways in between. Each side has an igloo and a barrel up top for high level sleeping. I find it curious tha they often choose to nap on ground level hidden under the big ferns – I thought they would prefer the higher bunks.

I have the luxury of being able to observe my cats at all hours and they really do come alive just before dusk. I sometimes feed after dark, especially when the weather is very hot and I usually find them cruising around and mock hunting each other. They seem to do a lot of chasing each other – at least until the meals arrive. About food, I feed chicken thighs, necks, and beef chunks, Oasis vitamins every day and giblets several times a week. I also believe in “whole” foods so each day they also get a small rat, a chick or a mouse. Sunday is their favorite – a whole rabbit – and there is not so much as a toenail left.

So now, a year after their arrival, though it does not appear that they intend to breed, they are happier, fitter and friendlier then they have ever been. I feel that they are as content as any cloudies in captivity. And am honored that they accepted me. I remain ever hopeful that one day I will arrive in the morning to clean and find the miracle of new life in clouded heaven.


Many thanks to Judy Bearens for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com.com in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. This article is copyrighted 2004 by Judy Bearens, and originally appeared in the FCF Newsletter. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.







 

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© Jessi Clark-White, 2005
Clouded Leopard Information