A female Far Eastern forest cat (aka Amur leopard cat) has arrived to live at the Moscow Zoo. Previously the zoo did have this species of cat but it was more than thirty years ago. This animal is deemed a rare subspecies of the Bengal cat. In the wild such cats’ range covers the Far East, the Amur River basin and the Sea of Japan coasts. They can also be found in some Far Eastern reserves, such as Khanka, Ussuri, Lazovsky and other nature reserves.
“Our cat arrived here early this autumn from the Novosibirsk Zoo. Her attitude to people is calm and she watches the visitors with curiosity. However, if she gets frightened by a loud sound or a sudden movement she will immediately go inside and hide. She plays a lot and explores her enclosure. This very active and agile cat is almost six months old. She has already got used to the zoo workers here who take care of her and recognises them,” said Svetlana Akulova, Moscow Zoo CEO.
Svetlana Akulova noted that Far Eastern forest cat leopard cats are rather secretive and cautious. This is why the best time to watch them is when they are being fed at 11 am at the Russian Fauna display from Tuesdays to Fridays. The cat’s diet includes chicken, beef and cereals.
The Far Eastern forest cat has been entered onto the International as well as the Primorye Territory Red List of Threatened Species. It is about the size of a domestic cat: its weight does not exceed six kilos, the body length is 75–90cm and its bushy tail may be up to 40cm long. Their fur colour may vary from golden yellow with grey spots to a darker straw colour with sandy-brown spots.
Out in the wilds the population of Far Eastern forest cats is constantly shrinking, above all because of the destruction of their natural habitat and also poaching: they are illegally caught for domestication. However, this species, like Pallas’ cats, are hard to tame and even kittens reared by a human being grow wild with time.
They usually live in the forest: they climb trees in an excellent way often using them to ambush and hunt hares, small rodents and also birds. They also swim well and catch fish if need be. Males and females only stay in the same area during their short mating season. Females make their lairs and look after their offspring on their own.
Thanks to their warm and thick fur Far Eastern forest cats endure even the harshest frosts very well. But they don’t like piles of snow: a cat may well get stuck in soft snow despite its light weight. Yet if the snow is packed down cats can freely move and hunt.
The Moscow Zoo regularly replenishes its collection, which includes now more than a thousand species and over eight thousand animals. An aardvark and three gentoo penguins were brought there for the first time in 2017. This year the zoo housed two Amur tigers and a secretary bird. Rare Madagascar fossas will be taken to the zoo before the end of the year.
In addition to this, the zoo participates in international programmes on saving rare and endangered species. Their offspring that appeared in the Moscow Zoo are accommodated by zoos in the country and elsewhere, and the Moscow Zoo accommodates animals from other cities and countries. Specifically, Miron, the Amur tiger, born in Moscow four years ago relocated to Copenhagen in March.