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Future Looking Brighter for Critically Endangered Scottish Wildcat

29 July 2015

SCOTLAND, UK - Three critically endangered Scottish wildcat kitten have been born in the RZSS Highland Wildlife Park.

Also known as the Highland Tiger, this incredibly rare, native species is facing the very real threat of extinction due to hybridisation with domestic and feral cats, habitat loss and accidental persecution.

However, with coordinated conservation efforts and a new conservation breeding programme for eventual release now established, the future for the species is looking much brighter.

The three young kittens were born at the end of April, but spent the first couple of months safely tucked away in their den with their mother Betidh, only recently starting to wander out and explore their territory.

David Barclay, RZSS Cat Conservation Project Officer commented on the recent arrivals: "Without Scottish Wildcat Action the future of the Scottish wildcat is bleak. The team is working hard all over Scotland to ensure measures are put in place to reduce threats, raise awareness and protect the remaining wild population. With such a small and declining population another important element to our action plan is establishing a new conservation breeding programme to increase numbers for future re-introductions.

"The high standards of husbandry and breeding success from animal keepers at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park are an asset to the breeding programme, and important genes from these new arrivals may one day be represented in released cats roaming the wilds of Scotland."

Although some similarities with domestic tabby cats exist, the two species are not to be confused.

With their big, bushy, black-ringed tail and tenacious behaviour it is no surprise that the Scottish wildcat was used historically in many Highland clan crests. 

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