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Rare Fishing Cats Born at the Ohio Zoo

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(Image credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

Three fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Jul. 29, 2011. The kittens, two males and one female, are being cared for by their mother in a secluded den where they will remain until they are several weeks old. This is the first offspring for this pair of fishing cats that came to the Columbus Zoo in 2010 as part of the Species Survival Plan for these endangered animals.

Adult fishing cats are twice the size of a domestic cat and range in weight from 15-35 pounds; males weigh significantly more than females. As many as four kittens are born after a gestation period of about 63 days and the kittens weighed approximately six ounces at birth. Kittens' eyes open by the 16th day and although they will begin eating meat when they are a few months old they are not weaned until 4-6 months of age.

(Image credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

Fishing cats are skilled swimmers despite their short, stocky body. Webbing between their toes aids in swimming and walking in muddy wetlands without sinking. As their name suggests they eat primarily fish but will also prey upon crustaceans, mollusks, frogs and snakes. They are powerful enough to hunt small wild pigs, young deer and calves.

(Image credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)