When TWS posted the story of the planned rescue that fell through for Bhutan the snow leopard, a curator for a city zoo was inspired to contact our sanctuary about providing a home for a clouded leopard named Scarlet who needed placement.
In 2012, Scarlet was 12 years old and had arrived at the zoo about a year earlier with her male companion. Sadly, her companion died within a few months.
Scarlet had been living in an indoor holding area since then and the zoo was having financial troubles, so they were unable to build an outdoor area for her. The curator wanted what was best for Scarlet, so she contacted TWS.
Director Tammy Thies said, “What makes this rescue so special is how rare her breed is in the wild and in captive breeding programs. We are honored to provide Scarlet with the retirement home she deserves.”
Clouded leopards are considered endangered. As of 2011, there were only 69 clouded leopards living in 24 institutions that participate in the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan. Scarlet is no longer able to breed and is not a part of the Species Survival Plan.
She’ll spend her years in retirement in a large, free-roaming habitat with indoor access at the Sanctuary. Being the best climber in the cat family, she will enjoy tree branches and high platforms in her habitat.
Clouded leopards live throughout the forests of Southeast Asia. The smallest of the big cats, they are secretive and rare in the wild, preferring to remain alone and hidden from view. They have the longest canines and tail, compared to body size. Even though they are small in stature, they are closely related to the big cats vs. small cats.
“We realize what a privilege it is to have a clouded leopard in our care,” Thies said. “We’re currently giving her some privacy to settle in and get to know her new home. This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful we can give such an amazing cat a forever home where she can relax and live out her retirement.”
Scarlet underwent an intake exam and remained in a quarantine area at the Sanctuary for 30 days before she was released into a free-roaming habitat. Trail cameras were set up to document her activity while she acclimated to her new home.
During her intake exam, we discovered some devastating news. A pre-implanted microchip helped us find out more about her past.
Being a rare cat, Scarlet was part of the Clouded Leopard studbook where her genealogy was tracked. She bounced around through several breeding facilities and non-accredited zoos and actually was lost in the system. We contacted the SSP to inform them of her whereabouts and status.
But the exam also uncovered health issues. Her rear-end was necrotic and swollen and she was incontinent. It was definitely painful and she was self- mutilating due to the discomfort.
A tumor on her mammary gland was also discovered and biopsy performed. And the most devastating news was that her initial blood work came back positive for feline leukemia. The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a disease that impairs the cat’s immune system and causes certain types of cancer, and is contagious between cats.
In many organizations, this would be a death sentence for Scarlet. But we owed it to her to perform more tests, treat some of the health issues and see if with the right support, she could begin to heal and continue to have quality of life.
Two weeks later, a follow-up exam was performed. Her back-end had dramatically improved with antibiotics and pain medication. The infection had subsided and inflammation decreased. The mammary tumor was malignant, but our vets felt they had clear tissue margins and the prognosis was good.
And the second IFA feline leukemia test came back negative which meant she has exposure to the disease, but currently is not shedding the disease. Our team made the decision that she deserves the best chance at a good life at TWS. But it will take special care to provide for her.
Because Feline leukemia is spread by close and persistent contact between infected and non-infected cats, Scarlet will now require a permanent habitat that is separated from the rest of the TWS population. This will ensure the disease cannot spread to the other cats. She’ll also need to be officially quarantined in terms of care, utensils and feeding. She was temporarily moved indoors for ongoing observation.
Our vision for her permanent habitat will provide her an indoor shift area, a 2000 square foot enclosure that has ample landscaping for coverage for her shy nature, logs to climb and claw, and hammocks to lounge on. Given her future habitat site is in the quarantine area, only a small team can work on the construction.
Outsourcing the habitat vs. volunteers building it will ensure it’s erected quickly with the least possible chance of cross contamination to our other residents. The fence company completed the new fencing of her habitat in January 2013 while a fundraising campaign began to finish paying for the rest of her planned new home.