Adorable photos show a newborn litter of 5 Critically-Endangered Scottish wildcat kittens.
First-time mom Talla gave birth to the litter at Wildcat Wood in Highland Wildlife Park, on April 2nd, and the kittens are due to receive their first veterinary check soon to determine their sexes.
The Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is one of the country’s most iconic animals, but also one of the most endangered. This is mostly because of inbreeding with feral or domestic house cats, and habitat loss.
Taxonomically speaking, it’s a subspecies of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) but appears so much like just a rugged tabby cat that two hikers, in one instance GNN reported on, believed they had found a lost tabby kitten in the snow on a hike in Cairngorms National Park.
One of the hikers noted that the animal’s claws were like “miniature razors,” and he and his friend joked that the little creature must be a Scottish wildcat.
A total of nine wildcats live at the Highland Wildlife Park. The new kittens will be on show for the public to visit, unlike other wildcats which are part of a breeding project. At 5 weeks old, they are already exploring their enclosures and playing atop the plastic and wood crates that form their den.
Keepers at the wildlife conservation charity will name the youngsters in the coming weeks
“We are thrilled to welcome five Scottish wildcat kittens born to mum Talla and dad Blair on April 2nd,” said Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park.
“This is Talla’s first litter, and she is taking to motherhood brilliantly and being very attentive. The kittens are doing extremely well and are getting more confident every day.”
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“It has been fantastic to see them growing curious about their surroundings and start exploring their home in Wildcat Wood with Talla by their side.”
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland leads the partnership project Saving Wildcats, working with global experts to restore Scotland’s Critically-Endangered wildcat population by breeding and releasing them into the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland’s largest.
All those cats born last year are soon to be released.
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“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,” said Gilchrist.
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