The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating the birth of two critically endangered wildcats at Edinburgh Zoo.
What is Happening?
- Staff at the wildlife conservation charity say the kittens, a boy and a girl, will be named in the coming weeks.
- Wildcats are one of Scotland’s rarest and most threatened mammals. RZSS is leading a new partnership project called Saving Wildcats, based at the charity’s second site at Highland Wildlife Park.
- There are an estimated 1 000 to 4 000 individuals in Scotland, of which about 400 cats are thought to meet the morphological and genetic criteria of a wildcat.
- The Scottish wildcat population used to be widely distributed across Britain, but has declined drastically since the turn of the 20th century due to habitat loss. It is now limited to north and east Scotland.
- It is listed as Critically Endangered in the United Kingdom and is primarily threatened by hybridisation with domestic cats,
- The conservation breeding and release of wildcats is being carried out by the Saving Wildcats partnership led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía. The project is funded with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the generous support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, The National Trust for Scotland, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The European Nature Trust.
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Alison Maclean, carnivore team leader at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are thrilled to have welcomed the birth of two wildcats in September, to mum Caol Ila and dad Talisker. The youngsters are doing well and we will be asking for the public’s help to name them in the coming weeks.”
Featured image by: RZSS
About the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is a wildlife conservation charity and owns Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. Founded in 1909, the Society’s purpose is to connect people with nature and safeguard species from extinction. For further information about RZSS conservation projects in Scotland and around the world, visit rzss.org.uk