Image: © RZSS
The Animal Facts Editorial Team
May 23, 2023 12:14 pm
Highland Wildlife Park, Scotland
Five critically endangered Scottish wildcat kittens have begun to emerge from the den at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park. The fabulous fivesome will help to bring awareness to the plight of this species which has suffered a significant decline in its population.
Keepers report that since their birth in early April the new arrivals have been doing well. In coming weeks expert vets will conduct a health check on the kittens that will confirm their health and genders.
Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park, said, “We are thrilled to welcome five Scottish wildcat kittens born to mum Talla and dad Blair on 2 April 2023. This is Talla’s first litter, and she is taking to motherhood brilliantly and being very attentive.''
Excitingly Talla herself was born at Highland Wildlife Park during 2020.
Under the watchful eye of Talla the kittens are gradually becoming more adventurous and have begun to explore the wildcat wood habitat.
Among the most iconic species in Scotland populations of the wildcat are unfortunately in decline. Habitat loss, hunting and hybridization with the domestic cat have all reduced their numbers.
RZSS are the leads of the Saving Wildcats partnership. Alongside an international team of experts they are restore Scotland’s critically endangered wildcat population by breeding and releasing them into the Cairngorms Connect area of the Cairngorms National Park, while mitigating the threats they may face. At present the partnership are readying for the release later this year of young born in 2022.
The latest litter of kittens form part of the UK breeding programme held by RZSS.
Keith added, “It’s an incredibly exciting time for wildcats in Scotland and we are delighted the kittens will help engage visitors with this iconic species and inspire more people to protect, value and love nature”
The Scottish wildcat is the last species of wildcat found in England. Their range has been significantly reduced to now only cover parts of Scotland but they are gradually beginning to recover.
Image: © RZSS
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