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Big Cats - Clouded Leopard

( Originally Published 1936 )

This beautiful, but little known, species is slightly smaller than the common leopard. The tail, how-ever, is extremely long and somewhat heavier in form than that of the true leopard. The markings are quite marvellous, rendering the animal the most brilliant and strikingly coloured of any of the Felidae. The fur is extremely short, usually of a golden-yellow, merging into white beneath, over which are scattered irregularly very large cloudy-looking spots and bands. The whole appearance is much like that of some of the larger pythons of India, where it is chiefly found. The head is extremely flat on top, and very long, the canine teeth are longer in proportion to the size of the head than those of any other cat, and the general proportions make it resemble very closely some of the fossil cats.

The habits of the Clouded Leopard, owing to its retiring nature, are comparatively little known. It lives in trees most of the day, seldom coming to the ground except at night when it thinks itself free from observation.

I have had frequent opportunity to observe a handsome specimen that is in the Philadelphia Zoological Garden. When first acquired it was extremely shy, lying for hours in its cage without moving. Gradually, however, it lost fear of the keepers and became comparatively docile, coming to the front of the cage and playing about, though never entirely losing its timid disposition. It seldom growled or snarled, like other cats, but when very much alarmed would give the usual growling cry common to most of the family. Many attempts were made to photograph this rare animal, but for a long time without success, as it was very suspicious of the camera and resisted all efforts to entice it into the sunlight of the outer cage. By the exercise of much patience and the use of considerable strategy, however, it was finally induced to come out, and some excellent photographs were secured.

Another specimen, added to the same collection more recently, is either younger or a different variety,—which it is has not been determined. The colour of this later arrival, instead of being the beautiful golden-yellow of its predecessor is a greyish-green, covered with the usual bars and spots, and may easily be the younger colouration of the animal.

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