Two endangered clouded leopard cubs have been born at a zoo in eastern France, its director said on Tuesday.
The as-yet-unnamed pair were born on July 5 at Mulhouse Zoo near France's borders with Germany and Switzerland, and "are staying with their mother in the maternity den for the moment", a statement said.
Dr Brice Lefaux, the zoo's director, said it has taken his teams nearly a year to encourage the cubs' parents, Mina and Awan, to mate, producing
France's first clouded leopard cubs for four years.
"We are trying to get clouded leopards together as young as possible because they are very solitary individuals," Lefaux said, adding that the
pregnancy has been a stressful time for the keepers.
Video footage of the cubs shows them nestling up to their mother with their characteristic coats of light hair with dark spots resembling clouds.
It will be several months before the cubs can venture out into an enclosure where visitors can see them up close, but in the meantime images of them are being shown on a screen.
The sex of the cubs is yet to be confirmed by vets.
Clouded leopards are a secretive, diminutive breed originally from the dense forests of southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas. They grow to
between 60 and 110 centimetres (24 to 43 inches) long and weigh between 11 and 20 kilos (24 to 44 pounds).