Extremely rare Scottish wildcat kitten caught on camera
Published Saturday, December 8, 2018 1:28PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 8, 2018 7:37PM EST
An extremely rare Scottish wildcat kitten has been caught on camera for the first time.
Footage of the feline and its mother was released by Chester Zoo in England, who welcomed the new arrival this summer.
The zoo says there are only about 100 Scottish wildcats left in Britain. It is considered the country’s rarest mammal.
“It’s ever so special to see just how active the kitten already is and how she’s already starting to use the skills that these magnificent, stealth hunters use to pounce on their prey," said Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals.
Conservation breeding in zoos is a key part of a wider plan to prevent Scottish wildcats from extinction. Wildcats were hunted for their fur and to stop them from preying on game birds.
The cats are not on show to the public as the breeding program aims to release the cats back into the wild. Zoo keepers spend very little time with them so they do not become domesticated through human contact.
“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,” Rowlands said.
“We’re very much part of the vision to restore and maintain a wild population of the stunning Scottish wildcat for the long term.”
As the only remaining wild feline species in the U.K., wildcats are now protected by law but are still threatened by habitat loss, cross-breeding with domestic cats and disease.