Scottish Wildcats Conservation

The Scottish Wildcat is critically endangered and recent reports by the Scottish Wildcat Association indicate that less than 100 individuals, perhaps as few as 35, may remain in the wild.

As Britain’s only remaining wild feline species protecting and conserving them means saving a piece of our history.

In September 2013 the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) released an action plan for the conservation of the Scottish Wildcat with conservation breeding* identified as a priority area for action. We’re proud to say that we were one of the first zoos to step up and offer our expert breeding skills and knowledge and as a direct result we will soon be starting to build an off-show breeding facility for Scottish Wildcats.

The building will house up to two pairs of the cats and their off-spring and enable us play a vital role in saving this critically endangered species.

In addition, our Biodiversity Officer Sarah Bird has also been in contact with the SNH Wildcat Conservation Project Development Officer to find ways in which Chester Zoo can get involved with other aspects of the conservation work for the Scottish Wildcat too.


Funding the project

The zoo’s Development Team have already secured over £25,000 towards the building of the Scottish Wildcat enclosure. Our donors include,

• Brian Wilson Charitable Trust
• Mrs Carole Brown
• Mrs D M France-Hayhurst Charitable Trust
• The Peter Foden Family Charitable Trust
• The Ronald and Kathleen Pryor Charity


Scottish wildcat kittens

Image credit Alex Riddell

Get Involved

This overall project is of national importance and we know that Chester Zoo supporters are always keen to get involved and support us.

A really important element of the development here at Chester Zoo is the installation of CCTV and webcams, enabling us to monitor the cats with minimum human contact and giving you the chance to view the cats too.

This is a fantastic example of in-situ and ex-situ conservation working together, and the important role that zoos can play in helping to save species.

Together as part of the SNH Scottish Wildcat project we are all working to maximise the chance of maintaining a wild population of the Scottish Wildcat.


*The conservation breeding programme for the Scottish Wildcat is being managed by Douglas Richardson at RZSS, with the assistance of the Aspinall Foundation.