Two rare Scottish wildcat kittens have made their first appearance at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie.
Vaa and Gynack, who were born on April 11, are the second successful litter for parents Betidh and Hamish.
The kittens are named after lochs in line with the custom at the park.
Experts agree that the Scottish wildcat is one of the UK’s most endangered animals, despite the lack of reliable population estimates.
The biggest threat to the Scottish wildcat is cross-breeding with feral domestic cats and responsible pet cat ownership will be a key element in conserving the wildcat.
Douglas Richardson, the park’s head of living collections said: “The appearance of these wildcat kittens is the latest in the Wildlife Park’s long history of breeding the species. Now, with the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan (SWCAP) in place, the contribution that these little chaps may make in the future to their species’ survival will hopefully be more impactful.
“The Highland Wildlife Park is playing a significant role in a high priority proactive breeding programme which aims to create a reservoir of genetically pure wildcats to be re-released in the future.”
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s WildGenes laboratory is also carrying out genetic testing on wildcats to determine the extent of hybridisation.
By 2019, the SWCAP aims to have to have secured five stable wildcat populations in the wild and have a better understanding of wildcat distribution and genetics.
It also aims to create greater local awareness of the threats posed by feral cats and the importance of domestic cat owners having their pets neutered.
The park also had another happy event recently, the birth of two Eastern kiang foals to mothers Boshay and Cin-tsha. Kiang are Tibetan wild ass.
Mr Richardson said: “Although currently not threatened in the wild, kiang are still fairly uncommon in zoological collections and we are justifiably proud of our success with this species.