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Record Breaking Year for Wildcat Breeding Project

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: December 19, 2020 12:01 am

scottish wildcat kittens

Some of the wildcat kittens born in United Kingdom zoos this year

Photo Credit: Camperdown Wildlife Park

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating a record year for the European wildcat breeding program within United Kingdom zoos.


A total of 57 wildcat kittens were born in 22 litters at 10 zoos this year. This is a significant increase on the 24 kittens which were born at 11 collections in 2019.


RZSS has managed the population of this species since 2015 as part of a conservation effort for this threatened species. European wildcats are on the brink of extinction following habitat loss, persecution and interbreeding with domestic cats.

wildcat kittens Edinburgh Zoo

Some of the wildcat kittens born in United Kingdom zoos this year

Photo Credit: RZSS

They are leading a new partnership known as Saving Wildcats which aims to secure a future for this species by breeding and releasing them.


David Barclay, Saving Wildcats ex-situ conservation manager and coordinator of the UK conservation breeding programme, said, “Wildcats are one of Britain’s rarest and most endangered mammals which means every one of these kittens is a potential lifeline.


“Over the last few years, the members of the wildcat breeding programme have demonstrated the immense value in working together to secure a future for this iconic species.”

wild cat kitten RZSS

Some of the wildcat kittens born in United Kingdom zoos this year

Photo Credit: RZSS

As part of this program Highland Wildlife Park (operated by the RZSS) is constructing a specialist breed for release centre. This will have facilities to breed and care for the cats along with preparing them for life in the wild with a goal of conducting the first release in 2022.


David added, “It has been a challenging year but we are really excited to be bringing together all the necessary resources and expertise to save Scotland’s wildcats, and incredibly grateful to everyone making this vital work possible."

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The Saving Wildcats partnership is led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, The Cairngorms National Park Authority, Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía.


The project is supported by the LIFE Programme of the European Union as well as the Garfield Weston Foundation, The National Trust for Scotland, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The European Nature Trust.

wildcat kittens Edinburgh Zoo

Some of the wildcat kittens born in United Kingdom zoos this year

Photo Credit: RZSS

Learn more about RZSS on their website – Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

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