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Critically endangered wildcat kittens born at Highland Wildlife Park


By Louise Glen

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Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating the birth of four critically endangered wildcat kittens at Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore.

Visitors now have a better chance of spotting the four playful kittens, named Strom, Eilein, Druim and Vaara, after the wildlife conservation charity reopened wildcat viewing areas at the park this week.

Guests will be encouraged to wear a face mask in these areas to help keep the animals and others safe.

Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.

Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park said, “We are thrilled to welcome the birth of four kittens, who were born during lockdown in May, to mum Fiain and dad Blair.

“We have one male, Strom, and three females, Eilein, Druim and Vaara. It has been great watching them grow and it is fantastic to now be able to welcome visitors to meet them too.”

Wildcats are one of Scotland’s rarest and most threatened mammals and RZSS is leading a new partnership project, Saving Wildcats, which aims to secure a future for this iconic species by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild.

Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.

David Barclay, Saving Wildcats conservation manager, said, “Following a sad history of habitat loss, persecution and, more recently, breeding with domestic cats, wildcats are on the brink of extinction in Scotland but it’s not too late.

“By bringing together the expertise and skills of national and international organisations, the Saving Wildcats project can secure a future for the Highland tiger by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild, so every birth is a potential lifeline for the species.”

Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Wildcat kitten at the Highland Wildlife Park.

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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