Washington D.C. has two new, adorable residents.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the zoo recently welcomed two clouded leopard cubs to their Asia Trail.
The precious pair, a male named Paitoon and a female named Jilian, were born at the Nashville Zoo on April 29 and March 24, respectively, and made their public debut at their new home on Sept. 11.
For now, the cubs will only be on exhibit for short periods of time as they acclimate to climbing around the space. As the baby animals becoming more comfortable, they will spend more time in their public exhibit.
“The cubs are extremely curious and precocious; they have been exploring and investigating every nook-and-cranny of their new home,”Michael Brown-Palsgrove, curator of Asia Trail, said in a statement. “It’s a great time to visit the clouded leopard exhibit to see them and learn about all our conservation efforts here and in Thailand.”
Along with learning the twists and turns of their exhibit, the cubs are also learning how to behave at meal times and target training to help with their routine veterinary exams.
Paitoon and Jilian will live together as a socially bonded pair but will not be set up as mates. Clouded leopards in zoo are often paired with a mate after they are a year old. The Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), through years of research and work, have also found a way to successfully artificially inseminate clouded leopards. Jilian is a product of artificial insemination and physical proof there is more than one way “to help keep the population of clouded leopards in human care genetically healthy,” according to the National Zoo.
While the National Zoo has made great strides in clouded leopard conservation and is home to two adult clouded leopards, Paitoon and Jilian are the first clouded leopard cubs to live at the zoo.
Clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 clouded leopards in the wild. The animals are threatened by habitat fragmentation, deforestation and illegal wildlife trafficking.