After 16 wildcats were paired up earlier this year, the European partnership project has welcomed eight kittens in three litters so far and the Saving Wildcats team is hopeful for more births over the coming weeks.
Led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), Saving Wildcats is working with national and international experts to restore Scotland’s critically endangered wildcat population by breeding and releasing them into carefully selected locations in the Cairngorms National Park.
Chosen by the winner of the recent prize draw ran by the wildlife conservation charity to raise funds for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre, the cub’s name will be Brodie, a Scottish word meaning second son.
One lucky winner will be given the opportunity to meet and name the UK’s youngest polar bear at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park, after a prize draw was launched today (3 March) to help build Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre.
On December 16th, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) announced the birth of a tiny polar bear cub at Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore.
Staff at the wildlife conservation charity were delighted when they first heard the distinct high-pitched cub sounds coming from the den earlier this week but say the coming months are crucial.
CCTV footage captured in the den shows mum and cub enjoying a snooze.
Victoria previously gave birth to Hamish, the UK’s first polar bear cub in 25 years, in December 2017. As part of the breeding programme for the species, Hamish moved to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in November 2020. Hamish’s father Arktos was paired with Victoria again earlier this year.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has shared new video of six-month-old endangered Amur tiger cubs, Nishka, Layla and Aleksander, playfighting at Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore, this month.
Keepers at the wildlife conservation charity say the trio’s personalities are developing as they grow bolder and more confident, often entertaining visitors with their playful antics.
Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park, said, “It has been wonderful to see our three cubs and mum Dominika grow over the past six months. At half a year old, the cub’s characters are starting to shine.
“Nishka is the most confident around us and is always chuffing in the hope of more meat chunks.
“Layla follows in her footsteps as the two are always together, play fighting and keeping mum on her toes.
“Little Aleksander is more reserved and spends the most time with Dominika, but he is slowly becoming braver, exploring more and playing with his sisters.
“Amur tiger family groups do not usually live together in the wild and Dominika is still fiercely protective of the cubs, so dad Botzman is living separately for now.”
The public can help care for the Amur tiger family at the park and support wildlife conservation around the world by adopting the species this Christmas at bit.ly/AdoptAmurTiger.
Staff at the wildlife conservation charity say the one-week-old cubs, born on Tuesday 18 May, are doing well so far but they remain cautious at this early stage.
While the tiny triplets are being nursed by mum Dominika away from public view, visitors to the park can still spot dad Botzman who will be gradually introduced to the cubs as they grow older.
Vickie Larkin, carnivore team leader at Highland Wildlife Park said, “We are really excited about our new arrivals but the first few weeks of a cub’s life are crucial, so we are keeping public viewing closed for now to give Dominika and the youngsters lots of peace and quiet.
“The cubs’ eyes will start to open any day now and in the coming weeks they will be weighed and sexed during their first health check and named shortly after. Amur tigers grow quite quickly, increasing almost four times in size within the first month of their life, but they will remain dependent on their mum for at least 15 months. We hope visitors will start to see them out and about towards the end of July.
“Dominika is a very attentive mother and it is beautiful to see her given the chance to display these natural behaviours again.”
As well as being part of the endangered species breeding programme for Amur tigers, with Dominika giving birth to a previous litter in 2013, the charity has supported tiger conservation in Nepal by developing methods to evaluate tiger diets within the RZSS WildGenes laboratory based at Edinburgh Zoo.
Vickie continued, “There are just 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild, so our adorable cubs represent an important contribution to the future of this endangered species which is at risk of extinction due to extensive habitat loss and poaching.”
Once the cubs are old enough for visitors, one lucky winner and their loved ones could have the chance to feed the tiger family by entering an RZSS prize draw to help raise funds for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre, a new visitor experience at the park. Entry is just £5 and closes on 31 May, with the prize valid until March 2022 - find out more at crowdfunder.co.uk/NightAtHighlandWildlifePark
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating the birth of four critically endangered wildcat kittens at Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore.
Visitors now have a better chance of spotting the four playful kittens, named Strom, Eilein, Druim and Vaara, after the wildlife conservation charity reopened wildcat viewing areas at the park this week. Guests will be encouraged to wear a facemask in these areas to help keep the animals and others safe.
Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park said, “We are thrilled to welcome the birth of four kittens, who were born during lockdown in May, to mum Fiain and dad Blair.
“We have one male, Strom, and three females, Eilein, Druim and Vaara. It has been great watching them grow and it is fantastic to now be able to welcome visitors to meet them too.”
Wildcats are one of Scotland’s rarest and most threatened mammals and RZSS is leading a new partnership project, Saving Wildcats, which aims to secure a future for this iconic species by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild.
David Barclay, Saving Wildcats ex-situ conservation manager, said, “Following a sad history of habitat loss, persecution and, more recently, breeding with domestic cats, wildcats are on the brink of extinction in Scotland but it’s not too late.
“By bringing together the expertise and skills of national and international organisations, the Saving Wildcats project can secure a future for the Highland tiger by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild, so every birth is a potential lifeline for the species.”
The conservation breeding and release of wildcats is being carried out by the Saving Wildcats partnership led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía.
The project is funded with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the generous support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, The National Trust for Scotland, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The European Nature Trust.
Four-month-old Red Panda kits, Pokhara and Shimla, have begun to venture outside and try out their newfound climbing skills at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.
Born in July, the brothers first began spending time outside their den under the watchful eye of mum Kitty.
Photo Credits: RZSS/Alyson Houston
The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding.