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Zoo Deaths & Births

Life and death at the Houston Zoo: Cute new cubs born days after two horrific animal deaths

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Clouded Leopard Cubs born at the Houston Zoo June 2014
The two male clouded leopards were born June 6 at the Houston Zoo. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo

Two male clouded leopards join the Houston Zoo animal family as the first of their kind born at the facility, bringing a bit of sunshine just days after the tragic deaths of a zebra and leopard.

The leopard cubs, still unnamed, were born on Friday to mother Suksn. It's her first births and the first clouded leopard births for the zoo. The pair is also the first offspring for the cubs' father, Tarak. Suksn and Tarak have been residents of the Houston Zoo since 2012.

The cubs came after an unassisted, one-hour labor, and zoo keepers began steps to hand-raise the cubs. They were successfully nursing from a bottle within four hours of birth. The babes are now in the veterinary clinic to receive 24-hour care and will remain there for several months.

 The expectant mother now tips the scales at more than 7,000 pounds, making her about 6 percent overweight. 

The happy scene marks quite a contrast from what the Zoo went through just days earlier.

On June 2, Hatari, a male zebra, was fatally injured by his yard-mate, an antelope. The two animals had been sharing an enclosed pen for several months without incident. Then the very next day, Houston Zoo officials saw no choice other to euthanize Ivy, an elderly female leopard whose bones had become so brittle that her front elbow broke.

Life goes on with the birth of the two cubs — and the circle continues again with Tess, a 33-year-old Asian elephant who is pregnant. Zoo officials have put Tess on a diet to shed 500 pounds to improve her odds of birthing a calf in less than year.

The expectant mother now tips the scales at more than 7,000 pounds, making her about 6 percent overweight.

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