In case you didn’t know, this rather handsome chap is Jack and he is a Jungle cat. He also happens to be celebrating a birthday – turning 8 years young on the 27th February. We can’t see a more fitting reason to celebrate Jack as our cat of the month!
Jack was born at Olmense Zoo in Belgium in 2012, moving to The Big Cat Sanctuary in December of the same year. Jack arrived on a cold and frosty morning, therefore suitably named after Jack Frost! Jack is a delightful boy; sweet and playful and known for thoroughly enjoying any enrichment provided to him by the keeping team, whether it be as part of his meal or simply for play! Jack is known for his love of hessian sacks and different scents to explore in his enclosure. Weighing in at approximately 10kg, Jack is known across the site for his distinctive “bark”; a clear and loud vocalisation made by Jungle cats, similar to that of a dog (rather than the mew of a cheetah, or chuff of a tiger). As with all of our cats, we believe that Jack is a particularly unique and special boy. However, in his circumstance, this is truer than most as Jack is one of only two Jungle cats in a UK collection.
A Jungle cat, or Felis chaus, is a small wild cat species found in forest, wetlands, deserts, and grasslands across Africa and Asia, including India, Egypt, Thailand, and the Middle East. They can range from anywhere between 3-12kg in weight and traditionally live on a diet of rodents and small mammals in their natural habitat. They have long legs and a slender body and are believed to be one of the closest species to that of our modern domestic cats. As with the majority of wild cats, Jungle cats are solitary in nature, usually only coming together to mate, however, they have been known to form coalitions for hunting purposes. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last assessed this species in 2014, declaring them as Least Concern (LC), however, noting that their population is decreasing. Similar to that of other small wild cats that they share their ecosystem with, such as the Rusty-spotted cat and the Fishing cat, threats to the Jungle cat include loss of habitat, lack of prey and human-wildlife conflict.
There isn’t a breeding programme currently available for Jungle cats, likely due to their Least Concern classification by the IUCN, meaning Jack will remain a bachelor for the foreseeable future – not that he minds! Jack is the star of a new video series we have created; Meet the Cats! You can watch this first episode below.