Rare wildcat kittens born as part of project to save species

The four newborns at the Highland Wildlife Park have been named Strom, Eilein, Druim and Vaara.

Rare wildcat kittens born as part of project to save species Alyson Houston/RZSS
Endangered species: WIldcat kittens born at park near Aviemore.

Four rare wildcat kittens have been born at Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore.

The species is critically endangered and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is leading a project to secure its future.

It is called Saving Wildcats and involves the breeding and releasing of the animals into the wild.

The four newborns in the Highlands have been named Strom, Eilein, Druim and Vaara.

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.

Feline fine: The wildcats can now be spotted by visitors. <strong>Alyson Houston/RZSS</strong>”/><span
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Feline fine: The wildcats can now be spotted by visitors. Alyson Houston/RZSS

“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.”

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.”

Vistors have a chance of spotting the cats after RZSS reopened wildcat viewing areas at Highland Wildlife Park this week.

Saving Wildcats is a partnership led by the conservation charity in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía.