07 September 2016

Wildcats once thrived in Britain but were almost hunted to extinction for their fur and to stop them preying on valuable game birds. They are now protected under UK law but remain under huge threat from cross-breeding with feral and domestic cats, habitat loss and accidental persecution.

We’re working with Scottish Wildcat Action on a co-ordinated action plan to help save the highly threatened animals, which involves over 20 conservation partners including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Forestry Commission Scotland.

Conservation breeding in zoos for their eventual release has been identified as an important component in the long term recovery plan for the animals.

Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, explains:

Chester Zoo’s three Scottish wildcats – adult female Einich, male Cromarty and the new kitten – are currently in a special behind-the-scenes breeding facility. They are not directly on show to the public but visitors to the zoo can see them via a live webcam.

As well as the conservation breeding programme at the zoo, we’re also supporting Scottish Wildcat Action to monitor wildcat populations in the highlands of Scotland. This project will identify areas where wildcat populations are thriving or suffering.

Read the latest blog from the field, here.