MIAMI — It's a debut that will truly melt your heart. Brother and sister clouded leopard kittens made their first public appearance on Tuesday while zookeepers checked their development and gave them vaccines.
The kittens were born on Feb. 11, but they've been in seclusion with their mother, Serai, so they could properly bond while avoiding stress.
Both kittens appear to be thriving, and Serai continues to be attentive and nursing them regularly, officials say.
Zoo spokesman Ron Magill says he hopes sharing their pictures can bring a smile to people's faces amid the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.
The zoo staff is taking extra care when they're working with the kittens, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent news of a tiger contracting coronavirus at another zoo. The zoo says it is implementing new procedures that "include stepping into disinfecting footbaths prior to entering any feline area as well as using masks and gloves while working in those areas."
The zoo says clouded leopards, an endangered species, are very secretive cats found in forests within Southern China, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
The zoo says adult clouded leopards usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds, have a very long tail, relatively short legs and large paws which help in their "frequent arboreal lifestyle." They eat a variety of birds and mammals including deer, monkeys, and porcupines. They also have the longest canine teeth relative to their size of any wild cat, according to the zoo.
They are highly endangered over most of their range due to hunting for their attractive pelts which have ceremonial value in a variety of cultures.
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