The ‘world’s fluffiest cats’ have made their first appearance at Chester Zoo
The wild felines are among the most elusive in the world but are facing threats in their native habitat.
A group of the “world’s fluffiest cats” have made their debut at a UK zoo.
Known as Pallas’s cats, the four wild felines are among the world’s most elusive, but the species is in decline.
The long-haired foursome are brothers, and they arrived at Chester Zoo for the first time from Krakow Zoo in Poland.
“Pallas’s cats are incredibly furry,” said Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo.
“Relative to size, they have the densest and longest fur of any cat species – effectively making them the world’s fluffiest cats.”
It is hoped that their move to Chester Zoo will help to safeguard them against the fall in population, as scientists and conservationists work to improve the their future.
The felines, which are described as stockier than domestic cats, are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The cats are facing threats in their native Siberia, Central Asia and China where a population of 15,000 is declining and some 2,000 are being hunted each year.
Climate change and poaching are some of the factors behind their vulnerability. But the cats are often poisoned as they are considered pests, the zoo said.
“Now is the time to secure the Pallas’s cats’ future and prevent it from extinction,” said Mike Jordan, collections director at Chester Zoo.
“The arrival of this new quartet at Chester is part of the endangered species breeding programme designed to be an insurance safety-net in the face of continuing decline.”