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The adorable leopard cubs who are best friends with a baby orangutan

By Mail Online

Zonkie Just five weeks old, these twin baby leopards are as inquisitive as they are adorable - which is how they've made friends with a baby orangutan.

Solka and his sister Chant go to Rishi, aged one, for warm cuddles in his already long fur.

The pair, both African leopards were born at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

They now weigh around two pounds, stand at six inches tall and measure 12 inches from tail to nose.

Tiger Cubs

Hand raised by carers at the institute, these two endangered cubs will grow up to be animal ambassadors at the conservation centre, where people are given extraordinarily close access to the animal kingdom.

'Solka and Chant came away from their mother, Kirean, 10, around ten days ago,' said Rajani Ferrante, who gives the cubs 24 hour care.

'The babies are fed every four hours with a special formula made from vitamins, fresh yogurt and goats milk.

'In the wild the mothers are usually very attentive for around one month, after which they leave the babies to fend for themselves.

'When born in captivity it is necessary for trainers like myself to hand raise them.

Tiger Cubs'These guys will never be going into the wild and so to form a relationship with them they need to be hand raised by us after that time.'

Leopard populations are declining due to hunting and degradation of their habitat and prey base, and have a 'lower risk' status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

By far the strongest climber among big cats, an adult leopard can haul prey twice its own body weight up into a tree where it can feast without disturbance from other predators.

Adult male leopards usually grow to 80 cm high at the shoulder and weigh around 180 pounds, while adult females are considerably smaller, weighing around 120 pounds.

Both Solka and Chant have an outdoor habitat where they play and interact but they are so small and young they have free reign of the house and they roll around on the carpet.

Tiger Cubs'It will be several months before they can be re-united with their 10-year-old other and 15-year-old father Chance,' said 35-year-old Rajnee who has worked at the Institute for 12 years.

'They are so inquisitive and are walking around in the institute and meet the guests.

'They even play with Rishi who is a one year old orangutan who is their play mate and will be for the next six to eight months.

'Leopards are the most intelligent of the big cat family and Rishi is having a good time teaching them a few things.

'They will be animal ambassadors and meeting guests who visit the reserve.'

The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species is a wildlife education organisation, dedicated to promoting global conservation.