Wildwood celebrates as three rare little kittens take a bow
Three extremely rare Scottish Wildcat kittens have made their first appearance at Wildwood, near Herne Bay in Kent.
The two females and one boy are now 11 weeks old but have been off show to visitors until all their vaccinations had been completed.
Keepers have a pattern of naming Wildcat kittens after places in Scotland. So without further ado allow us to introduce boy Oban and girls Fearn and Rhu. As she is the smallest, keepers have nicknamed her 'Little' Rhu.
Dad, RJ, is currently separated from mother Carna and her kittens for their safety.
Keeper Sally Holt said "If we decide that it is possible, we will carefully integrate them in a few weeks when the kittens are bigger and stronger."
Scottish wildcats are seriously in decline, and face genetic extinction due to interbreeding with the domestic cat. Just 100 remain, making them rarer than the Bengal Tiger and the Giant Panda. As the name suggests, the cats are only found in Scotland. They once roamed all over the UK, but were persecuted and their habitat destroyed driving them north.
Said Sally: "The reason they look so much like your average tabby cat is because they breed with our domestic moggy. Hence, diluting 'wildcat' genetics and producing what we call a hybrid cat, with altered markings on its coat. It is vital we try to conserve what we have left in the wild and in captivity."
All Wildcats at Wildwood have been genetically tested for their purity in order to determine whether they are good candidates for joining the conservation breeding programme, run by Scottish Wildcat Action.
Even though the kittens may look cute and cuddly, do not be fooled! Wildcats are exactly that -WILD.
Sally commented: "At just 4 weeks old, the kittens were already showing off their bold and fiery attitude with hisses and spits when keepers entered their enclosure. They are certainly not to be messed with!"
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