SMITHSONIAN

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Friday, April 10, 2009

SMITHSONIAN

Clouded Leopard Cubs Both Male, Zoo Says

The National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center announced yesterday that the clouded leopard cubs born last month are both male.

The sex of the cubs, born March 24, could not be determined until their first veterinary examination. Both weigh about 19.5 ounces and have opened their eyes. More than 70 clouded leopards have been born at the research center in Front Royal, Va., since 1979. The previous litter was born in 1993.

Hannibal and Jao Chu, the father and mother of the cubs born last month, were imported from Thailand last year.

The births were the first in the official North American clouded leopard zoo population in six years. The zoo, part of the Smithsonian Institution, has 14 clouded leopards: two at the zoo in Washington and 12 at the research center. The cubs have not been named.

-- Timothy Wilson

THE DISTRICT

Council to Investigate Firetruck Donation

Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) have launched an investigation into an attempt to donate a District firetruck and ambulance to a small town in the Dominican Republic.

In a statement, they described the Fenty administration's decision to give away the emergency equipment as an "evolving scandal." The investigation, to be conducted by the Government Operations and the Environment Committee and the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, enables the council to subpoena key participants in the decision to transfer the equipment.

This week, Cheh and Mendelson, chairmen of the government operations and public safety committees, respectively, tried to obtain answers from the Office of Contracting and Procurement. Council members said they think that Wilbur Giles, chief of staff at the contracting office, authorized an emergency rule change to facilitate the transfer of the equipment to the nonprofit group Peaceoholics, which then sent the firetruck and ambulance on their way to the Dominican Republic. The two vehicles have since been returned. Giles, acting on advice from the D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles, declined to testify, citing a probe into the matter by the inspector general's office.


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