16 Jun 2023

The iconic Scottish wildcat has a new lifeline thanks to a collaborative conservation project and the first-ever conservation translocation of wildcats in Britain!

In a momentous event for wildlife conservation in Scotland, the first of 22 critically endangered Scottish wildcats was released last week into the Cairngorms National Park.

Also known as ‘Highland tigers’, these wildcats are symbols of the Scottish countryside and are vital for its ecosystems. However, due to major threats such as wildcats mating with domestic cats and the continued loss of its natural habitat, there’re so few of these animals left in the wild that they won’t survive without help. In fact, they’re now one of the rarest cats in the world.

That’s where the Saving Wildcats conservation partnership has come in to save the day!

We’ve supported this ambitious and collaborative project over many years, with the aim of saving this charismatic species from extinction by breeding and releasing the cats back into the wild.

The adorable Margaret, a wildcat once bred here at the zoo, was relocated to Scotland in 2021 to support the project. Amazingly, she has since given birth to kittens that will likely be released back into their native Scottish habitat soon!

“It’s fantastic that our efforts with Scottish wildcats here at the zoo and our support for this ambitious project up in Scotland can help to give the wild population a new lease of life. We’re proud to have been part of these critical efforts to save Scottish wildcats from extinction, and it’s really heartening to witness such collective action to restore their population.”

Mark Brayshaw | Head of Mammals at Chester Zoo


Over the next three years, around 60 wildcats will be released from these habitats into secret locations within the Cairngorms National Park. Importantly, the project’s conservationists consulted with people living in the area before this release and they’ll keep a close eye on all the cats using GPS-radio collars. Scientific data from these collars will also further our understanding of wildcat ecology and behaviour, helping the team to further protect them in the wild.

Scottish wildcat

As the wildcats embark on their new lives in the wild, they will still face numerous challenges. However, we’ll continue to support the Saving Wildcats partnership to ensure that this release becomes a turning point for this species in the Scottish wilderness.



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