Extinct in Israel, Sand Cat Kittens Emerge at Zoo Tel Aviv
August 21, 2012
In early August, keepers at Zoo Tel Aviv Ramat-Gan were thrilled to discover that mother cat, Rotem, had given birth to four wriggly little kittens. Initially there was concern that Rotem would be unable to care for so many kittens, but she has proven to be a capable mother for her curious youngsters. Now at three weeks old, the kittens have just begun to emerge from the den to the delight of visitors.
Specially adapted for desert life, Sand Cats can thrive in some of the world's driest areas beyond, the range of any other feline. Much like the Fennec Fox, Sand Cats sport big furry pads between their toes to dance along the hot sand and oversized ears, which act like radiators to disperse heat.
Despite these unique feline characteristics, the Sand Cat has not been able to outrun the triple threats of habitat destruction, inadvertent trapping by farmers, and predation and disease from domestic animals. Today they are extinct in the wild in Israel and on the decline throughout their native range of deserts in Asia and North Africa.