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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Kitten boosts rare cat population
Scottish wildcat
The Scottish wildcat kitten's parents are among 400 left in the world
A kitten born at a wildlife park is being hailed as a boost to the numbers of one of Britain's rarest mammals.

The Scottish wildcat kitten was born earlier this month to a pair of the rare pure bred cats at Wildwood Discovery park near Canterbury, Kent.

His parents, Hamish and Flora, are among only 400 Scottish wildcats thought to be left in the world.

Scientists say the species is nearly extinct because of interbreeding with domestic cats.

Unique to Britain

"The kitten's birth will help boost the increasingly important captive population in the UK, which could save the species from future extinction," said a Wildwood spokesman.

Scottish wildcats are the last wild feline in Britain, where they have lived for over two million years.

They are an average of 50% larger than a domestic cat, although one fossil specimen was 4ft (1.2m) from nose to tail.

It is unique to Britain and has a two to three sq mile territory.

Wildwood is holding a competition to name the kitten, which was born earlier this month.

Scottish wildcat faces extinction
26 Apr 04 |  Scotland

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