Maybe only 100 “Highland Tigers” are still alive today. In fact, they’re the rarest mammal in the UK, but we can add one more to the list.
Also known as the Scottish Wildcat, this famed feline was born at the Chester Zoo. The zoo is a conservation partner of Scottish Wildcat Action, which has facilitated breeding programs hoping to save these animals from extinctio .
According to Zoo Borns, the critically endangered Scottish Wildcats were once hunted for their distinctive fur coats. Having only one litter a year, compared to domestic cats who have multiple, the wildcats have had a much more difficult time bouncing back.
As Tim Rowlands, the Chester Zoo’s Curator of Mammals, says, this is “really, really significant.”
The baby wildcat was born in August, to cat parents Einich and Cromarty.It wasn’t until December the the elusive kitten was finally caught on camera, however. The Scottish Wildcats enjoy their privacy much more than they like showing off.
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“It’s ever so special to see just how active the kitten already is and how she’s already starting to practice the skills that these magnificent, stealth hunters use to pounce on their prey,” Rowlands said. “Conservation breeding in zoos is a key component in the wider plan to prevent Scottish Wildcats from disappearing altogether – and each new arrival offers another lifeline for the species.
“The hope is that the safety net population being bred by our carnivore experts will be released into the highlands of Scotland in the future,” he continued. “We’re very much part of the vision to restore and maintain a wild population of the stunning Scottish Wildcat for the long term.”
The zoo used non-invasive trail cameras that could capture the wildcats in a digital image without requiring a staffer to invade their territory just to snap a few quick pics. Scottish Wildcat Action has deployed at least 347 cameras at this point, all aimed at surveying the precious wildcat population in the UK.
See more of these beautiful animals in the video below!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.