Desert Sand Cats, the world’s smallest wild cat species are coming to Japan!
From March 20, 2020, Nasu Animal Kingdom will be welcoming the new residents to their conservation display in Tochigi. The display will house two Sand Cats, one male known as Sharif and one female named Jameel.
The introduction will be a first for Sand Cats in Japan, which the zoo hopes will produce offspring as part of an international breeding scheme. The new feline faces will be welcomed to Nasu Animal Kingdom and at their sister zoo, Kobe Animal Kingdom on the same day later this month.
Sand Cats (Latin: Felis Margarita) also known as Dune Cats, is the smallest wild cat in the world and the only cat which lives mainly in deserts. The cat is found widely distributed across North Africa, West Asia and parts of Central Asia. Despite having a conservation of Least Concern, zoos across the world have been continuing to make a conservation effort to protect the cats since 2002.
The cats are known for their pale, sandy coloured fur, with markings that are not dissimilar from markings of domestic tabby cats. Standing at about 36cm in height, roughly 52cm in height and weighing around 3kg, the Sand Cats are the smallest wild cat in the world. With padding from a thick covering of fur that grows between its toes, the Sand Cat can travel across hot desert sand whilst protecting and insulating its foot pads from the heat. Highly adapted to life in the heat, the cats have been known to inhabit both sandy and stony deserts.
The cats have been nicknamed “angels of the desert” by Nasu Animal Kingdom and will be appearing at Nasu Animal Kingdom and Kobe Animal Kingdom from 20 March, 2020.