Asia, Rimau, & Dahan

This terrific trio educated millions about the plight of this rare and vulnerable species.
  • 1980s
  • 1990s

In 1986, three unrelated clouded leopard cubs became the first of their species to take the role of animal ambassadors. The female, Asia, and two males, Rimau and Dahan quickly bonded with each other—and their trainers. Although the Zoo had cared for clouded leopards as far back as 1948, this trio was the first time a more hands-on approach was taken to raising them. They soon were taking strolls through the Zoo grounds, enchanting the visitors they encountered.

They also became a popular part of the daily shows in Wegeforth bowl, where Rimau amazed guests and trainers alike with his 25-foot-long leaps across the stage. Asia, for her part, was uncharacteristically (for a clouded leopard) friendly to all she met. All three were comfortable around people—a trait that led to their legacy as ambassadors for their species.

While this well-camouflaged species can be challenging to get a good look at in an exhibit, these calm cats made a huge impression on the countless school children that met them. Being so close to the beautiful and mysterious cats created a connection and empowered students to want to help dwindling wildlife.

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