Fishing Cat

Fishing Cat Cub Is a First for Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo is excited to announce its first successful birth of a Fishing Cat. The cub, whose sex is not yet known, is named Miso-Chi (MEE-soh-CHEE) and was born on January 25.

The cub was born to mother Namfon (NAAM-fawn) and father Ronaldo. Namfon was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, in Washington D.C., in May 2012 and arrived at the Denver Zoo in July 2013. Ronaldo was born in June 2013 at a private facility in Houston, Texas, that specializes in the propagation of rare and endangered species and arrived at Denver Zoo from there in April 2014. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

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4_baby_fishing_cat_02Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Fishing Cats are scattered throughout southwest India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, Java and Pakistan, living primarily in wetland areas like swamps, marshes and densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams.

As their name suggests, Fishing Cats are powerful swimmers and fish form an important part of their diet. However, they are generalist feeders. Rodents, amphibians and aquatic birds are also fare. The cats have been observed attracting fish by lightly tapping the water’s surface with their paw, mimicking insect movement. They then dive into water to catch the fish that come near and, because their claws do not fully retract, use them like fishing hooks to spear the slippery fish. Fishing Cats also wade in shallow water to hunt for prey to scoop out.

Although they resemble a domestic house cat, they are about twice the size of an average house cat. They can grow from about two to almost three feet long, with a foot long tail. They also weigh 18 to 26 pounds and have stocky builds with short legs. Their fur is olive gray with dark spots arranged in longitudinal stripes down the back and a ringed tail tipped in black. They have flat-nosed faces with short round ears and six to eight distinctive dark lines running from above the eyes between the ears over the head to the neck. Fishing Cats are very much adapted to their semi-aquatic life, with water resistant fur and webbed hind feet to power them through the water. Their short, flattened tail acts as a rudder to help control direction as they swim.

Exact Fishing Cat population numbers in the wild aren’t known because they are so rarely encountered. However, it is believed there are less than 10,000 individuals, and their numbers are declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies them as “Vulnerable”. Their biggest threats are wetland destruction and conversion to farmland. They are also threatened by pollution from industry, agricultural pesticides, and destructive fishing practices. The species is also threatened by poaching for food, medicine and body parts. In addition, Fishing Cats are often a target of local farmers in their native habitat. The farmers believe the cats are solely responsible for the killing of their small livestock and damage to their fishing nets. While this does happen occasionally, they are often blamed for acts other animals commit. Fishing Cats are also hunted for the exotic pet trade.

Denver Zoo recently voted to donate $1,500 to the Fishing Cat Fund, which seeks to educate the public about Fishing Cats as well as to conserve cats in the wild. The money for this comes from the Zoo’s membership animal care donation “check box,” which supports conservation projects for species of the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Visitors to the Denver Zoo can see the new cub, alongside mom, learning to dive for live fish in the waters of the Marynelle Philpott Fishing Cat Lagoon exhibit at Toyota Elephant Passage.


Fishing Cat Plays with Mom at Parken Zoo

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Parken Zoo in Sweden welcomed a new Fishing Cat on May 24. The little one, whose sex is not yet determined, is doing well and will nurse from its mother until it reaches about six months of age. The proud mother and father, Alaya and Narjol, are already an experienced pair. They have two adult offspring, Arya and Arun, born in September 2009. 

Fishing Cats mainly live in southern and southeast Asia, often in wetland areas such as marshes, lakes, rivers and coastal mangrove forests. Generally active at night, they are excellent swimmers. They can scoop fish out of the water with their paws, and even dive to catch them. Caretakers at Parken Zoo often feed the Fishing Cat family in the water so that they can engage in their natural behaviors when eating. However, these cats are also adept hunters and scavengers on land, taking a variety of animals ranging from frogs and snakes to larger prey like dogs and goats. 

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Photo credits: Parken Zoo

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UPDATE! Fishing Cat Kittens Play Till They're Tuckered Out at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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The Fishing Cat kittens at the Smithsonian National Zoo are growing up purrfectly, spending their days romping around their yard and catching fish! And yes, Fishing Cats do like to get into the water. They use their flatened tail like a rudder to steer them when they paddle around. But sometimes all that activity wears them out and they need to take a kitten nap.

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Born May 18 to Mom Electra, the kittens are now six months old. Their birth was an important milestone for the National Zoo, as it was the first time Fishing Cats had successfully bred and given birth there. You can read more about them and see all their baby pictures right here on Zooborns.com

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Photo Credit: Photo 1: FONZ Photo Club member Barbara Statas, Photo 2- Smithsonian National Zoo


UPDATE! Fishing Cat Kittens at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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You may have seen these Fishing Cat kittens on ZooBorns on June 15, the first ever at the Smithsonian National Zoo, born on May 18. 

On June 29, at 6 weeks old, the two kittens - a male and female - received a clean bill of health from zoo vets. The team performed a complete physical exam, which includes listening to the kittens’ heart and lungs, checking their mouth, eyes, legs, feet and genital area and feeling their bellies. The kittens also received the first of a series of vaccines that protect against feline distemper and some upper respiratory viruses.

Their birth marked an important milestone: this is the first time fishing cats have successfully bred and produced young at the National Zoo. Keepers are monitoring mother Electra and her offspring through a closed-circuit camera, allowing the family time to bond. The kittens are very active and spend much of their time playing and watching Electra fish in their enclosure. Although the family will not make its public debut until later this summer, Zoo visitors can see their father, Lek, on exhibit at the Asia Trail.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo


National Zoo Heralds Its First Fishing Cat Births!

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The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is closer to cracking the code for breeding one of Asia’s most elusive species with the birth of two Fishing Cats (Prionailurus viverrinus). Seven-year-old Electra delivered the kittens between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 18 in an off-exhibit den. Their birth marks an important milestone: this is the first time fishing cats have successfully bred and produced young at the National Zoo.

Keepers are monitoring the mother and her offspring through a closed-circuit camera, allowing the family time to bond. Although the kittens will not make their public debut until later this summer, Zoo visitors can see their father, two-year-old Lek, on Asia Trail.

“Many months of behavior watch, introductions and research allowed us to get to this point,” said Zoo Director Dennis Kelly. “It’s very rewarding that our efforts have paid off. The future of their wild cousins hangs in the balance, so it’s imperative that we do all we can to ensure their survival.”

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Photo credits: Courtney Janney / Smithsonian's National Zoo

Read the story of this exceptional breeding success and see tons of pictures below the fold!

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Fishing Cats Really Do Get Wet!

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We did a story on three little Fishing Cat kittens born on July 29 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium when they were only two weeks old. You can read about that and see the pictures HERE

Now they have gotten big enough to get into the water. That's right, Fishing cats like to get into the water to get their fish and that means they get wet, as can be seen in these photos. These cats have a long, stocky body, shorter legs and tail, and a broad head with round ears. Their olive-gray fur has black stripes and rows of black spots. They may use their flatened tail like a rudder when paddling around. 

Fishing Cats are medium-sizeded wild cats found in South and Southeast Asia. They were classified in 2008 by the IUCN as endangered, because the wetlands habitats in these areas are fast becoming degraded or settled. The Fishing Cat population has severely declined in the last decade alone.

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Announcing "ZooBorns CATS!": The Newest Edition in the ZooBorns Library!

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From the guys who brought you the smash hit ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World's Zoos and Aquariums, which DiscoverMagazine.com called “hands down the cutest books ever to grace my shelf” comes ZooBorns CATS! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos featuring adorable pictures of newborn felines from accredited zoos and conservation programs around the world. ZooBorns: Cats! is the largest and most complete collection of kittens of different feline species ever published! Every sale of ZooBorns Cats! supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund. With the official release on November 1st, you can pre-order ZooBorns CATS! now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Look out for exclusive giveaways and excerpts on our Facebook page in the coming weeks! 


Fishing Cat Kittens Just Two Weeks Old!

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Three Fishing Cat kittens, two males and one female, were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Jul. 29, 2011. These photos were taken during a routine vet check-up, but for now these water-loving felines are with their mother in a secluded den where they will remain for the next few weeks. This is the first offspring for this pair of Fishing Cats that came to the Columbus Zoo in 2010 as part of the Species Survival Plan for these endangered animals.

Fishing Cat Kittens 02 - G. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Fishing Cat Kittens 03 - G. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto credits: Grahm Jones

Adult fishing cats are twice the size of a domestic cat and range in weight from 15-35 pounds; males weigh significantly more than females. True their name, Fishing Cats love nothing more than a good fish dinner, but will also snack on crustaceans, mollusks, frogs and snakes. In fact, these cats are large to enough to hunt larger game and occassionally will take down a small wild pig or deer. 

The nocturnal Fishing Cat is found in southern Asia in densely vegetated areas near marshes, mangroves, rivers and streams as well as in tropical dry forests. Water pollution, clearing of forests for settlements and agricultural use, and over-exploitation of local fish stocks are a threat to the Fishing Cat. The Columbus Zoo’s conservation program has supported assessments of distribution, status and movements of fishing cats in their native habitat as well as workshops and school awareness programs in Fishing Cat range countries.


Our First Fishing Cats!

A first for ZooBorns and the first in 15 years for the Cincinnati Zoo: Fishing Cats! As their name suggests, Fishing Cats are specialists at hunting critters in the water. They will even dive-in head first to catch their prey! This makes them the perfect cat to take in the bath with you (kidding!).

The Cincinnati Zoo has been working with other AZA institutions to study these elusive felines in the wilds of Thailand. Learn more, including how to help, at www.fishingcatproject.info

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Watch them do some fishing!

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