Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Fishing Cat Kitten in Fragile Rain Forest

When you visit the Fragile Rain Forest exhibit, you may hear the pitter-patter of little paws splashing in a small pool. That’s because there is a new addition: a male fishing cat kitten born on October 31, 2014. He has now grown old enough to be seen on exhibit with his 4-year-old mom, Anna.

Adopt a Fishing Cat

The birth of this kitten is extremely significant to the population of fishing cats in North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) because both parents have had no previous offspring. Anna was born at Parc zoologique de La Fl├Ęche in France, and Chet, the 5-year-old sire, is on a breeding loan from Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. The pairing of Anna and Chet was based on a recommendation from the AZA’s Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums.  Currently, there are 43 fishing cats in 16 North American institutions. The last successful fishing cat birth at Brookfield Zoo was in 1998.

Fishing cats at Brookfield Zoo

Fishing cats at Brookfield Zoo

Fishing cats are small: males average about 25 pounds and females slightly less at around 15 pounds. Like their name implies, fishing cats’ diet consists of fish, but they also eat crustaceans, mollusks, frogs, and small mammals. The cats, whose paws are slightly webbed, crouch on a rock or sand bank and use a forepaw to scoop up their prey or wade into the water at chest level and snag fish with claws that don’t fully retract.

Fishing cats are endangered in the wild. Once found throughout Asia, they are now found in densely vegetated areas near marshes, mangroves, rivers, and streams in discontinuous areas of the continent, including in Sumatra, Java, southern China, India, and Sri Lanka. The degradation and destruction of wetlands and the depletion of fish stocks pose significant threats to their population, as does hunting for their fur, which is prized on the black market.

You can help care for the fishing cats at Brookfield Zoo through the Share the Care Program.

Adopt a Fishing Cat

Posted: 2/6/2015 1:35:57 PM by Filed under: AZA, Brookfield Zoo, fishing cat, Fragile Rain Forest, kitten, Share the Care, SSP

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read the latest exciting stories about how our experts are advancing the science of “animal-directed” care through innovative programs at Brookfield Zoo and global field efforts.


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