Pattaya City, Thailand
Photograph - Digital Photograph
It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Ricky, the eldest of a current population of thirty-three clouded leopards at Khao Kheow Open Zoo here in Thailand. For more than ten years, Khao Kheow Open Zoo has worked in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, Nashville Zoo, and Point Defiance Zoo in Washington State in a collective endeavour to conserve this highly vulnerable specie by way of well controlled and managed selective breeding programmes.
Clouded leopards are native to Thailand, so the natural choice of location for the principal breeding centre was over here, and Khao Kheow Open Zoo being the largest of Thailand's eight principal zoos - not to mention the world's largest open zoo - was chosen as the best venue. With fifty-five births to date since the project first began, Khao Kheow Open Zoo has is internationally recognised as having the most successful clouded leopard breeding programme in the world.
As some of you already know, felines are my favourite family group, and of all felines I love clouded leopards the most. In my fortunate position at Khao Kheow Open Zoo I have been given the privilege of sharing numerous hours with many of their beautiful cats, and in that time I have gotten to know their individual temperaments and personalities, something I am always trying to capture by way of my photography, I guess in much the same way I endeavour to do this with all my animal subjects, but with clouded leopards my passion for them makes this desire to capture such images all the more compelling.
While some adult clouded leopards can become a lot more grumpy as they grow older, Ricky always appears alert and assertive yet totally comfortable in the presence of people and, for me, this portrait I managed to capture of him represents his endearing character so well.
The title for this picture came quite easily: As the warm, early morning light fell so well on Ricky, his fur took on the appearance of flame, then I got to thinking once more of the plight of clouded leopard survival in the wild with their ever-dwindling numbers while they struggle for their continued existence, hence, Tenacious Embers.
Many more of my pictures can be seen over on my website - www.ashley-vincent.com - and if you see one there that you would like to purchase as a print but you do not find it over here in my FAA portfolio, please send me a message or email to let me know the picture title and reference number (both of which you will find under all photos in the galleries on my website) and I will post it up here for you immediately.
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May 28th, 2013
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