An extremely rare kitten was born in the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo. The kitten looks like your run-of-the-mill domestic cat but it’s actually a Highland tiger. It is believed that there are only roughly 100 of the wildcats remaining in the UK.
The Scottish wildcat kitten is a product of a breeding program designed to save the species from extinction. Unfortunately, there are multiple factors that contribute to the species’ dwindling numbers.
For one, unlike their domestic cousins which give birth to a litter of kittens, the Highland tiger births just one precious kitten. Additionally, the cats were once hunted for their fur and to stop them from preying on game birds.
The Scottish wildcats also interbred with domestic cats which made their offspring not technically wildcats.
Regarding the baby born at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said in a press release that they hope to breed a safety net population that can be “released into the highlands of Scotland in the future.”