Rare, tiny African feline on display at Prospect Park Zoo
A black-footed cat, Africa’s smallest species of wild feline, is on display at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo.
Also known as small-spotted cats, black-footed cats are native to the arid open savanna and grassland areas of southern Africa.
Currently, the zoo has a male on exhibit in the nocturnal section of its Hall of Animals. A female will eventually be introduced for breeding as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums across the U.S.
“Our hope is to breed these cats to contribute to the survival of the species while educating our guests about a beautiful yet vulnerable cat species that is unknown to most people,” said Denise McClean, director of the zoo.
The cats are extremely small, only 3-4 pounds, and hunt birds and rodents at night. Their large eyes enable them to see well in the darkness, and their spotted coat provides camouflage against the brush.
The species is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which estimates that there are fewer than 10,000 mature individuals remaining in nature.
The Prospect Park Zoo is located at 450 Flatbush Ave. within Prospect Park. For more information, call (718) 399-7339 or visit prospectparkzoo.com.
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