Twin Fishing Cats Born at National Zoo

Milestone births for endangered species

Twin Fishing Cats
Courtney Janney, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Looks like the National Zoo has two new young additions! Twin fishing cats were born May 18, an important milestone for the endangered species.

The twin kittens were the first ever fishing cats to be bred and produced in the District -- making future breeding possibilities a more tangible option. Only 27 of out of 30 fishing cats in North America are considered reproductively viable. 

The fishing cat population has decreased 50 percent over the past 18 years due to poaching in Southeast Asia, and scientists are working hard to help this endangered species thrive in the future. Named for their hunting technique, fishing cats tend to find the majority of their diet living in water.

These kittens are going through procedures most human babies experience after birth -- physical examinations and vaccinations while being closely monitored by specialized scientists.

They will make their first public appearance late this summer, but their father, two-year-old Lek, can be seen now on the National Zoo’s Asia trail. Their mother, Electra, has heightened maternal instincts and doesn’t let the twins go too far.

Apparently the zoo originally planned to pair Electra with another male, but the original pair showed no interest in each other. When Electra met Lek, they instantly showed their affection by nuzzling and grooming each other.

The match made in heaven is definitely a step in the right direction towards saving another endangered species, and these cute young kittens are just the proof to show for it.

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