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Watch adorable footage of new wildcat kittens born at Highland Wildlife Park

New adorable footage of wildcat kittens born as part of a conservation project at Highland Wildlife Park has been released.

A total of eight wildcat kittens have been born as part of the Saving Wildcats project and will likely be among the first of their species to be released into the wild in Britain.

There were 16 wildcats matched at the conservation breeding for release centre at the Kincraig-based park earlier this year.

Three litters have been born as a result, with more hopefully on the cards in the coming weeks.

In new footage released by the park, mum Dorma can be seen with her three kittens as they play and get used to their new surroundings.

Three kittens have also been born to mum Caol Ila and two have been born to Torr.

Saving Wildcats programme

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.

The six-year European partnership project is led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, The Cairngorms National Park Authority, Norden’s Ark and Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio de la Junta de Andalucía.

Conservation manager David Barclay said the kittens are the “future of wildcats in Scotland” as the species is likely to go extinct if urgent action isn’t taken to protect it.

Keepers will work to prepare them for release into the wild in the coming months.

Mr Barclay said: “It is still early days for our new wildcat kittens who are very vulnerable in their first weeks and months. They have a lot to learn over the next year, but our expert Saving Wildcats keepers will be on hand to help prepare them for the many challenges of life in the wild.

“We have a very hands-off approach with the cats to give them the best possible chance of survival after release.”

Wildcat conservation projects have been running in the Cairngorms for over a decade!Previous initiatives include the…

Posted by Saving Wildcats on Monday, 25 April 2022

Preparing for the wild

It is hoped that the first of the wildcat kittens will be ready for release in 2023.

A number of parties are involved in making sure this is possible, with keepers at the park preparing the kittens and partners around the Cairngorms National Park making sure the area is ready for their arrival.

Helen Senn, head of conservation and science at RZSS, said, “Wildcats are Scotland’s most iconic animal but sadly also one of our most endangered. Habitat loss, hunting and inter-breeding with domestic cats have all taken their toll, leaving this incredible species on the brink of extinction.

A wildcat at Highland Wildlife Park. Picture by Sandy McCook.

“This enormously collaborative effort includes our dedicated keepers caring for the cats in the centre, the field team carefully assessing the suitability of potential release sites, and national and international experts sharing best practice and their experience of breeding a whole range of species for release in conservation projects across the globe.”

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