By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –
This story first appeared online on Nov. 28, 2020.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed two fishing cats from Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The breeding pair, Chet, 11, and Anna, 10, are the biological parents of six-year-old, Boon, and grandparents of two-year-old, Puddles.
Tyler Boyd, the Zoo’s Program Leader of AZA’s Fishing Cat SSP, was a major contributor in bringing the three generations together.
“Chet and Anna’s arrival brings the Zoo’s fishing cat family to a total of five animals. This is especially exciting as there are only 27 fishing cats in the AZA animal population,” said Boyd, OKC Zoo’s Curator of Carnivores.
“By welcoming this new breeding pair, we have the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to the conservation of this unique and vulnerable species,” he added.
Since arriving at the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat, Chet and Anna have been off public view as they adjust to the sights and sounds of their new surroundings and get acquainted with their caretakers. Although the pair has bred together previously, fishing cats are solitary by nature and only come together for breeding purposes.
Dependent on their comfort levels and outside temperatures, Chet and Anna will begin rotating time individually in their habitat with fishing cats Miri, 13, and Boon, by late November.
Two-year-old, Puddles, can be visible to Zoo guests in his habitat, located inside the Small Cat building in Cat Forest.
Native to South and Southeast Asia, fishing cats are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation Nature. The greatest threat to declining fishing cat populations is wetland destruction, caused by pollution, encroachment, draining for agriculture, and excessive hunting and fishing.
Now home to five fishing cat ambassadors, the Zoo remains a proud participant in the Fishing Cat SSP, contributing a total of three kittens to the AZA population through its successful breeding program.
The public is invited to visit the Zoo to see the two newest members of the Zoo’s feline family.
Beginning Tuesday, December 1, the Zoo’s winter hours will be Thursdays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with no public access on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at http://www.okczoo.org/tickets.
Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts.
To learn more about Zoo happenings, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.