International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Meeting The Small Wild Cats

Recently I had the privelege of spending a full day working with the small wild cats of Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, in the United Kingdom. The park itself is well known for its extensive array of animals and one of the greatest selection of small cats in Western Europe. Needless to say my experience did not disappoint.

One of the first things I learned upon arrival was that the park is heavily involved with captive breed and release programmes, contributing to various wild populations around the world, therefore assisting species whose numbers are dwindling. The emphasis was strongly focused towards the welfare of the animals rather than just making profit. This is an example I wish many more zoos would follow.

Over the course of the day I had the opportunity to feed margays, fishing cats, ocelots and Indian desert cats to mention a few. Preparing “feeds” is, in itself, a fairly mammoth task which took up some part of the day and other duties included cleaning the enclosures and conducting general maintenance of the living areas. Headkeeper Neville Buck and I began constructing a new, more insulated roof for the den of a resident pair of margays – England in the winter is not ideal for warm weather cats, but every effort is made to keep each animal comfortable and healthy.

All in all, I feel my Port Lympne experience was infact quite eye-opening. As somebody who has studied both big and small cats for a while, it was a pleasure to witness several species in the flesh for the first time. Seeing a picture in a book and actually being up close looking at them face to face are two very different things. Some may be smaller or bigger than you might imagine. Though one thing is for sure – all are twice as beautiful than any photo could ever portray.

Fishing cat hides among the ivy

About the author: ISEC Canada member Brad Parsk is a conservationist and wild cat enthusiast from the U.K. He has assisted in projects throughout Europe and North America preserving threatened species and their habitats.

See more photos of the small wild cats at Port Lympne from ISEC member Ben Williams:

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