The start of the year has seen an important task being undertaken by our keeping team, with two sets of cats with recommendations for pairing, and potentially breeding, as part of the international coordinated breeding programmes. These pairs are two of our Jaguars, Keira and Neron, and our Pallas’s cats, Jethro and Qara.
Both are in the process of being mixed and spending time in each other’s company and enclosures, with high hopes that they may be able to breed in the future. We’ve seen a lot of positive behaviours between our jaguar pairs; although initially cautious and apprehensive, Neron and Keira have come on leaps and bounds, even co-habiting across their two enclosures indefinitely.
“Our jaguars Neron and Keira have bonded incredibly well and we’re really pleased with the progress they’ve made in a reasonably short amount of time. They seem to really enjoy each other’s company, although Keira definitely wears the trousers in the relationship! We will, of course, continue to monitor their behaviour with each other in case of any changes, but hope to have a potential breeding pair ready for when our new breeding centre is ready for use. They are just cute as pie!” comments Head Keeper Briony.
In contrast to our new love birds, we’ve seen a lukewarm reaction between our Pallas’s cats. This certainly isn’t love at first sight! However, the team are working hard to mix the pair at their own pace with the aim of optimising positive behaviours between the pair.
Cats from extreme environments (such as Pallas’s cats and Snow leopards) are typically seasonal breeders, meaning they don’t come into season all year round. By doing so, it means that offspring are born at a milder time of the year, such as the spring, when weather is warmer and food sources are more available compared to the harsher seasons. In addition to this, female Pallas’s cats come into season for an incredibly short amount of time (approximately only 42 hours a year), therefore the team are giving them every opportunity to be comfortable in each other’s company ready for when Qara may come into season.
“We still hope when Qara comes into season nature will take its course, however, we’re happy to take the process at the pair’s pace. If it’s not this year, we’ll give it a go again next year.”