Since the 1980’s, the wild population of the Scottish wildcat has decreased so drastically that they are now seen as one of the most endangered native mammals within the British Isles.
This may look like an ordinary domestic tabby cat; it's not! Several Scottish clans’ crests have a Scottish wildcat and carry the motto “touch not the cat but a glove”. It is infinitely more ferocious than a domestic cat.
Scottish wildcats prefer wooded areas and forests
Diet - Carnivore
They eat small to medium sized prey animals such as rabbits, rats and hares.
Scottish wildcats are up to 65 centimetres in length with a tail half this length. They weigh up to 7 kilograms.
Wildcats are found across Europe with a sub-population in Scotland.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) considers the Scottish wildcat to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild..
The main threat for the Scottish wildcat is hybridisation with domestic cats. Deforestation is also a huge problem. Game keeping is also a threat on estates, as the wildcat can be accidentally shot when they practice game bird management and predator control.
There could be as few as 200 pure Scottish wildcats in the Scottish Highlands.
Zoos are part of an ongoing programme called Saving Wildcats recovery project which is based at Highland Wildlife Park. Zoos directly contribute to cats being released into the wild as kittens born in a zoo will be sent to the Highland Wildlife Park before being released into the wild.