TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A leopard cat gave birth to three kittens at Taipei Zoo, the first time in 20 years that such an event has occurred in captivity, the zoo said Wednesday (March 3).
The cat, named Ping Ping, had been recovering from injuries at Taiwan’s largest zoo when she sought a quiet place and gave birth to her three young around 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 2), CNA reported. Leopard cats are an endangered species that often make headlines in Taiwan when they are hit by a car while crossing a forest road.
Taipei Zoo is one of several institutions involved in a convalescence program for the injured animals where they receive medical attention before being released back into the wild. The pregnancy was the result of Ping Ping mating with another injured leopard cat at the zoo named Xiao Yu (小魚, Little Fish) in December.
Shortly afterward, veterinarians noticed hormonal changes in the female, notifying them that she was expecting. While Ping Ping had likely given birth before, the fact that this time there were three kittens warranted special attention, the zoo said.
The leopard cat would receive extra food and nutrients, while the kittens would be put under observation to see if they were fed enough to grow up into healthy adult animals.
The number of leopard cats in Taiwan has reportedly fallen below 500, and most of them live in mixed forest and agricultural areas in Miaoli, Taichung, and Nantou counties, under threat from pesticides and traffic.