Clouded leopard

Neofelis nebulosa

IUCN Status: vulnerable


Along with the tiger and Asian leopard the clouded leopard (Latin family Neofelis a different cat entirely to Asian leopards - Latin family Panthera) is an apex predator of the food web. They stalk, ambush and are known to hang upside down under overhanging branches over paths to catch prey! Typically, deer such as hog deer or barking deer, monkeys such as macaques, squirrels, porcupines and pangolins are on the menu! Prey is usually taken into the tree canopy and eaten out of site.


This is an exceptionally difficult cat to breed in captivity as the confined spaces and forced pair bonding often goes wrong. In the wild females become mature at just after two years of age. Their gestation is about 90 days with a six day oestrus cycle occurring maybe twice a year. A litter of 1 -5 cubs looked after by the female becomes independent just before their first year. In captivity the adult male clouded does not get a chance to interact with his cubs copying the wild pattern.

At The Zoo

We have had a pair of Clouded leopards living here until recently; "Tai" our hand reared male & "Princess" a hand reared female. They did not tolerate each others company and lived separate lives. Tai at the age of 11 recently passed away under anaesthetic due to cancer and the enclosure is being used by our much younger female Princess. Typically for a clouded leopard female she is much more shy and secretive and can be elusive if you come especially to see her. For the welfare of this species a lot of vegetation is kept and deliberately maintained in their enclosure.


Undisturbed tropical rainforest through out Asia. This should be a very large area of the continent but prime forest full of quality timber and food for local people is not only fast disappearing but is constantly being disturbed in this region. Clouded leopards are a typical arboreal (tree loving) feline - seldom encountered!

Fun Facts

Quite possibly the closest living descendent of the fabled prehistoric sabre toothed tiger!


Solitary, except when mating or the female has cubs these leopards have territories which they scent mark the boundaries of and fight to remove competitors. Their density is determined by available prey but is approximately one every 30 square kilometres in undisturbed rainforest usually in protected National Parks. In the wild clouded leopards are predominantly nocturnal but they can be every active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) and this natural behaviour makes them a very difficult species to exhibit and encourage to display during daylight and zoo visiting times.