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Zoo Boise, a division of Boise Parks and Recreation, is excited to announce the birth of three male baby sand cats. Proud parents Nala and Simba welcomed the kittens into the world on April 4, 2021.


This is both Nala and Simba’s first litter of kittens, these are the first sand cats ever born at Zoo Boise, and the first sand cats born in 2021 at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). These births are not only important for Zoo Boise, but vital for the conservation of sand cats worldwide. There are only 51 sand cats in zoos accredited by the AZA, which means Zoo Boise is currently caring for 10 percent of the total population. Nala and Simba were paired together as part of the Sand Cat Species Survival Plan, a conservation program aimed at maintaining a healthy and genetically diverse population of sand cats in order to increase their numbers.

“This is an incredibly significant birth for the entire conservation community,” said Zoo Boise Director Gene Peacock. “The babies are doing well and we look forward to introducing them to the community.”

The sand cat kittens weighed an average of 90 grams each at birth. Combined, that’s only about half a pound. Full grown sand cats weigh between three and seven and a half pounds.

Sand cats, sometimes called sand dune cats, are found in the arid deserts of Africa’s Sahara desert, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of central Asia. Even though they are very small, that doesn’t stop them from being ferocious. Sand cats are opportunistic hunters and have been known to attack and consume venomous snakes.

You can visit the sand cats at Zoo Boise’s Small Animal Kingdom. However, you most likely will not be able to see the new babies for a few more weeks because they are still in the den box. As mom Nala feels comfortable, she will slowly allow her kittens to start exploring their new exhibit.

Zoo Boise has turned the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. Since 2007, visits to Zoo Boise have generated more than $3 million towards the conservation of animals in the wild, redefining why we have a zoo. Zoo Boise is a division of Boise Parks and Recreation and is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a national organization that supports excellence in animal care, conservation, education, and science.

Zoo Boise is currently open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a set number of tickets available each day to meet current group size requirements. Tickets must be reserved in advance and a timed entry process has been implemented to reduce lines and allow for physical distancing. Please note, due to the current Public Health Order in place in the City of Boise, face coverings are required when visiting the zoo. For more information regarding ticketing, other health and safety protocols and to reserve tickets, visit