APRIL 7, 2016
Animal staff at the Jackson Zoo were proud to announce the birth of two healthy kittens to their female Fishing Cat on the morning of March 10, 2016. Both have been identified as males.
Fishing Cats are listed on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, due to habitat loss and hunting. They originate in Asia, specifically southwest India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, China, and the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. Unfortunately, local communities have drained many wetland areas to make room for farmland and roads, and pollution from industries has poisoned rivers and streams where fishing cats feed.
Aside from their extremely small remaining population, they have a very low rate of reproduction, only two to four kits born annually in the last 10 years. As of 2012, there were less than 100 cats in AZA institutions, and less than half those could be safely bred. Without human intervention, it is projected that the species will become extinct in less than two human generations.
The Jackson Zoo is a proud member of the AZA SAFE initiative (Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Save Animals From Extinction), which is a program set up to safely breed species that are dwindling in the wild and captivity. The new kittens are joining a growing list of endangered births here in Jackson, such the Red wolves, Eko the Sumatran tiger (sponsored by JSU), and most recently, the male Bornean Orangutan.
This is the first live birth for Iris, who came to join the Jackson Zoo from Columbus, Ohio, as a one year old in April of 2009. The kits have opened their eyes, and are un-named aside from their assigned personal numeric identification within the International Species Database. In the coming months, the kittens will be taken care of behind the scenes by their mother, and animal staff will follow her lead when it comes to introducing them to public view.
For more information about the AZA Fishing Cat Animal Program, please visit www.aza.org.