Israeli Sand Cat Kittens

The zoo is working with a European breeding program to increase the number of rare sand cats in Israel.

Rotem, an Israeli zoo’s unique sand cat, with her three kittens.

For the sand cat species, it appears that personal taste isn’t a requirement for reproduction. Rotem, the sole surviving sand cat at the Ramat Gan Safari Park, was not fond of Kalahari, his replacement, who arrived from Sweden in September. Three weeks ago, Rotem gave birth to three kittens, who have now started tottering on their tiny legs beyond the nest. “We were very worried,” admitted Sigal Horowitz, a Safari representative. “We tried for a year to find her a mate, but nothing happened. And sand cats don’t live forever, so this is crucial.

Sand cats are under danger. They are extinct in Israel and Jordan, while a sub-species may possibly persist in North Africa’s deserts. Only 200 of the indigenous sand cat species, Felis margarita, remain, all in European zoos. They are small, sand-colored, large-eared, and survive in severe desert circumstances. Zoos around the world are working together to save them. One day, we aim to return them to nature.

So, when Rotem’s original partner, Sela, died, Safari searched the world’s zoos for a replacement and found Kalahari, a 3-year-old husky from Sweden. Not at first sight. “We anticipated them bonding after meeting and being appropriately exposed to each other, but they didn’t,” Horowitz adds. During the day, the cats did not lock lips or talons. She recalls that “they didn’t do anything unpleasant, like show their fangs.” “We combined them—and nothing occurred. They would exchange platonic glances. “

Rather than ask Sweden if their animals had a problem, the keepers chose to keep the cats in the same room for the night. “We don’t generally do that with sand cats because they’re scarce and can fight badly,” Horowitz says. They did realize that Rotem had grown chubby. Three weeks ago, the day-shift keepers saw three furballs in Rotem’s den. They say she’s a great mommy. Due to the fact that the cats had not been left alone for the night, Rotem’s two prior pregnancies (after 60-69 day gestation) were expected. Nobody had seen Kalahari, but there weren’t many other explanations for the kittens. Many experts have been warning that mankind isn’t about to create a sixth great extinction event. He is.

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