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Three sand cats born at Zoo Boise

Proud parents Nala and Simba welcomed the kittens into the world on April 4.
Credit: Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise has announced the birth of three male baby sand cats. Proud parents Nala and Simba welcomed the kittens into the world on April 4, 2021.

Zoo officials say this is Nala and Simba's first litter of kittens, and these are the first sand cats ever born at Zoo Boise.

The births are vital to the conservation of sand cats across the globe. There 51 sand cats in zoos, and that means Zoo Boise is currently caring for 10 percent of the total population. 

Nala and Simba were paired together as part of the Sand Cat Species Survival Plan, a conservation program aimed at maintaining a healthy and genetically diverse population of sand cats in order to increase their numbers.

"This is an incredibly significant birth for the entire conservation community," said Zoo Boise Director Gene Peacock. "The babies are doing well and we look forward to introducing them to the community."

The kittens weighed an average of 90 grams each at birth. Combined, that's only about half a pound. Full grown sand cats weigh between three and seven and a half pounds.

Sand cats, sometimes called sand dune cats, are found in the arid deserts of Africa's Sahara desert, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of central Asia. Even though they are very small, that doesn't stop them from being ferocious. Sand cats are opportunistic hunters and have been known to attack and consume venomous snakes.

You can visit the sand cats at Zoo Boise's Small Animal Kingdom. However, you most likely will not be able to see the new babies for a few more weeks because they are still in the den box. As mom Nala feels comfortable, she will slowly allow her kittens to start exploring their new exhibit.

Zoo Boise is currently open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a set number of tickets available each day to meet current group size requirements. Tickets must be reserved in advance and a timed entry process has been implemented to reduce lines and allow for physical distancing. Face coverings are required when visiting the zoo. 

Credit: Zoo Boise
Three new sand cats were born at Zoo Boise on April 4, 2021.