Saved and not alone: two manul kittens arrived at the Moscow Zoo

November 24
Parks and pedestrian areas

The Moscow Zoo has sheltered two manul kittens rescued in Buryatia. The kids were accommodated in the Center for the Reproduction of the Rare Animal Species, located near Volokolamsk. Manul cats, or, as they are also called, Pallas cats (the animals got their second name in honor of the German scientist Peter Pallas, who first described them)— are one of the rarest and most secretive representatives of the cat family. The species is listed in the International Red Book. Manul has been the symbol and mascot of the Moscow Zoo for more than 30 years.

The kittens came to Moscow from the Buryat village of Mukhorshibir. They were found by local residents. The newborns lost their mother, they were weakened and emaciated. Animals would no longer be able to survive in the wild. Local residents fed them milk and infant formula, and then handed over to the zoological garden of the Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia in Ulan-Ude. The specialists of the Moscow Zoo constantly consulted the museum staff, helping them to nurse predators.

On the recommendation of Rosprirodnadzor, it was decided to transfer the manul cats to the Moscow Zoo. There are comfortable conditions for the maintenance and reproduction of these rare animals. When the kids got stronger, they began to be prepared for transportation to the capital. The animals endured the flight well.

Press Service of the Moscow Zoo

"Both kittens are females, they were named Alice and Brunhilda. They are about eight months old. Upon arrival at the Reproduction Center, the manul kittens underwent a mandatory monthly quarantine. Veterinarians vaccinated them. Medical examinations have shown that our new little pets are healthy. While the kittens live together, but when they grow up, they will be settled in different enclosures. We hope that in the future we will be able to get offspring from both females and thereby replenish the reserve population of a rare species," Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo, said.

Now seven manul cats live in the Reproduction Center (also one individual is represented in the city exposition of the zoo). Zoologists have provided them with conditions close to natural. Here the animals feel safe and regularly bring offspring.

When the quarantine ended, Alice and Brunhilda moved into their new enclosure. Their territory includes both indoor and outdoor areas. And although the manul cats, owners of a luxurious thick fur coat, persistently endure even the most severe frosts, the kittens are still in the heated internal enclosures. This measure is necessary so as not to endanger their health. When the manul cats were rescued, they were nursed in warmth, otherwise they could have died. Now the predators need time to be adapted to the low temperatures.

Manul cats are very active, they study the world around them with curiosity. Most often they run around their possessions, explore houses and jump on shelves, play with each other. Small predators already feed on adult food. Their diet includes rodents and birds.

Press Service of the Moscow Zoo

Alice and Brunhilda are in non-exhibition enclosures of the Reproduction Center, which means that visitors cannot see them. This is due to the secretive nature of pallas cats: due to the constant attention of people, they become restless, adults stop reproducing. Only one manul cat, the most sociable of the group, lives in the urban part of the exposition. You can observe his habits on the old territory of the Zoo — his cage is located next to the panda enclosure.

The first manul cats appeared in the collection of the Moscow Zoo in 1949, and since 1975, the Moscow Zoo was one of the first in the world to achieve the regular appearance of offspring of these rare animals. Since then, almost 150 kittens have been born. Now many manul cats from Moscow live in zoos of the USA, Europe and Asia. The Moscow Zoo is the leader among the world’s zoos in the number of kittens born.

In the wild, Pallas cats live in Eastern Siberia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and the foothills of the Himalayas. But to meet them in the natural environment is a rarity, because the animal is very careful. It is a master of disguise: crouching to the ground or stones, the gray-brown cat practically merges with the terrain and becomes invisible. This skill is used by manul cats when it is necessary to shake off pursuit, avoid meeting with a predator or catch prey. They make a lair in crevices of rocks, small caves, under stones. Even those specialists who study manul cats and monitor their numbers do not always manage to see the animal. Camera traps and video shooting from special quadrocopters help them in their work.

According to zoologists, today the wild population of manul cats has about 15 thousand individuals. The number of representatives of this feline species continues to decline steadily due to illegal hunting and destruction of the natural habitat. Pallas's cats often fall into leghold traps set for other animals.

In size, the manul cat is no larger than a domestic cat — its body length is 50-65 centimeters, it weighs from two and a half to five kilograms. The animal is distinguished by a lush coat, short ears and a characteristic pattern on the muzzle — two narrow black stripes from the eyes to the neck. The predator's diet includes rodents, as well as partridges and keckliks (mountain chickens).

The Moscow Zoo regularly hosts rescued wild animals. For example, in May, Tompa — the female polar bear settled here. Rescuers found her in Yakutia. She could not hunt on her own and had to look for food near residential areas. Tompa has fallen in love with her new home, the bear loves swimming in the pool and fishing. And in August, three chicks of a fish owl arrived at the Center for the Reproduction of Rare Animal Species. Kusaka, Brosaka and Lezhaka arrived from Kunashir Island. Zoologists themselves took the chicks from artificial nests located outside the protected areas, as well as from those where there were two babies. This is fundamentally important, since in the wild the second chick dies from cold, emaciation, or even gets eaten by the parents in case of extreme hunger. Therefore, the employees took the smallest of the pair.

In addition, since October in the city part of the zoo you can admire the new inhabitant — tiger Stepan. He was seized from smugglers when he was about a year old. Like the bear Tompa, Stepan loves to swim very much. On the first day, he brought all his toys into the water.


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