A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
by Pat Bumstead
It’s amazing how much coverage a zoo can get with a kitten video. Any kitten video is popular, but when you have four of the most adorable little bundles of Felidae at once, it bounces around the internet on an endless loop.
No one can argue with the cute factor of these little Sand Cats, but there are couple of items mentioned in the script that should be corrected.
The first, and one that has bugged me forever, is the media’s free and easy use of the word ‘extinct’. To say an animal is extinct in Israel grates on my nerves – extinct is extinct folks, as in dinosaurs and dodos. The word refers to a species that is “no longer in existence” – period. Sand cats are found throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, so their population is far from extinct. They aren’t even listed as an endangered species.
The correct word, which the press seems totally unaware of, is “extirpated”, which means they used to live there but now they don’t. I know I’m beating my head against the wall on this issue, but couldn’t miss a chance for the soap box.
The other incorrect item is that the sand cat is the only wild cat species that lives in the desert. This is not true – caracals, wildcats and leopards also live in true desert of the Middle East and Africa. One of the smallest wild cat species in the world, the black-footed cat, lives in the deserts of South Africa.
If you’ve possibly missed the cuteness-fest of the last couple of weeks, here they are again.