It May Look Cute But It’s A Killer, Worlds Deadliest Cat Arrives At Zoo

On December 28, Gaia, an eight-month-old black-footed cat, was welcomed to the Small Animal Building at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. This addition marks an important step in the conservation of the world’s most lethal and smallest African wild cat.

The Hogle Zoo took in Gaia upon breeding recommendation from the Black-Footed Cat Consortium, and she is said to be small in size but large in her feisty personality.

Black-footed cats, which are native to the arid eastern parts of Namibia, Central and Southern Botswana, and South Africa, are about 200 times smaller than typical lions and have a height of eight to ten inches and a weight of 2.4 to 4.2 pounds.

Despite their small size, research shows that these wild cats have a predation success rate of 60%, much higher than that of lions. They are also known to kill an average of 10 to 14 rodents or small birds every night, making them an important part of their ecosystem.

Breeding is crucial to the survival of black-footed cats, as they were listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List in 2016.

Hogle Zoo plans to keep curtains or barriers around Gaia’s space as she adjusts to her new home, as these cats are predominantly nocturnal and shy. They also hope to introduce Gaia to Ryder, the male black-footed cat at the zoo, when she reaches maturity.

In September, the zoo announced the passing of the oldest recorded black-footed cat in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo.

Sanura, who lived to be 18.5 years old, also holds the record for the oldest black-footed cat to give birth to a successful litter at the age of 14. Her successful offspring, along with Gaia’s possible future offspring, will contribute to the conservation of this species.

With only 29 black-footed cats in the Black-Footed Cat Consortium, successful breeding could significantly contribute to the program and help save this vulnerable species from becoming endangered.

Hogle Zoo is committed to the conservation and protection of the black-footed cat, and they hope Gaia’s arrival will bring attention to this species and encourage others to join in their efforts.



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