Sand Cat Kitten Birth Gives Hope for Near-Extinct Species

After 63 days of gestation, a rare Sand Cat Kitten was born at Israel’s Safari Zoo, which is located near Tel Aviv.

The female kitten, the first Sand Cat species to be born at the Ramat Gan Safari, has been appropriately named Renana, meaning “joy” or “song” in Hebrew.

According to Zookeepers in charge of caring for the cats, the kitten’s mother, Rotem, gave birth about three weeks ago, but only recently did the kitten emerge from its outdoor enclosure.

Zookeepers said they first saw the kitten when it poked its tiny head out of the den, allowing photographers to capture the image you see above.

Sand cats, small and stocky felines which live in North African and Middle Eastern deserts, used to be common in the dunes of Israel, where they were referred to sometimes as “dune cats,” but are now extinct in the region.

With pale yellow fur, the rare species live in burrows in areas that are even too hot for the African wildcat and do their hunting after dusk where they can cover up to six miles per night looking for their prey which includes rodents, lizards, insects, and yes, birds.

Ramat Gan Safari is hoping that Renana will join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild.

via CP
Image Credit: Zooborns