Risha the Clouded Leopard
A male clouded leopard named Risha (meaning "sun") arrived at the Alexandria Zoo in 2000. He was born in August 1999. Over the next few years Risha would become the father of three successful litters of cubs. The births were significant for the Alexandria Zoo and for the species because of the poor breeding success of captive clouded leopards. One of the biggest challenges inhibiting clouded leopard breeding programs is male aggression. In unbonded pairs, males frequently attack and kill females.
The clouded leopard is a very rare and secretive cat. The species as a whole is very shy, making clouded leopards difficult to study in the wild. In 2009, Alexandria Zoo participated in an aggression study conducted by a student working through the National Zoo. The study researched the effects of particular prescription drugs to see if they would help reduce aggression in male clouded leopards.
Risha was one of the control subjects in the study; he was not administered any prescription drug. For three months, Alexandria Zoo staff filmed Risha to document his reaction to different stimuli. He was recorded in several situations such as: no stimuli, people he was not familiar with nearby, loud noises, and a mirror.
Where in the Zoo?
Risha's exhibit is located across from the Malayan Tiger exhibit. Risha is a very shy cat, and is sometimes hard to find in his exhibit because of his excellent camouflage. Usually the best time to see him is in the late afternoon when he is being fed. During most of the day he likes to sprawl out on his patio in the back of his exhibit.
Click here to learn more about clouded leopards.