A new species for Hellabrunn

After spending the past few weeks settling into their new home, visitors will finally have an opportunity to meet the two newly arrived Pallas's cat sisters in the Jungle World at Hellabrunn Zoo.

Copyright: Zoopark Chomutov, Miroslav Brtnický

It may take a little while to spot the two Pallas's cats, also called manul, in their enclosure situated to the right of the Jungle Tent. After all, these small wild cats have a light grey or rusty-red brown fur that provides effective cover, blending in with the bushes and shrubs. Pallas's cats are most active at dusk and dawn. Their stocky posture and dense fur often make them appear larger than they really are. On average a Pallas's cat is about 60 cm long, not much larger than a domestic cat. Another distinguishing characteristic of this Asian wild cat species is its face: the eyes and ears are set wide apart, giving the Pallas's cat the appearance of always being in a bad mood. In contrast to most other types of small cat, its pupils are circular as opposed to slit-shaped.

The female Pallas's cats living at Hellabrunn Zoo were born at Chomutov Zoo in the Czech Republic in spring 2016. "We are delighted to have the opportunity to show our visitors another new and interesting species with the arrival of these extraordinary cats," says zoo director Rasem Baban. "We are offering the two females a long-term stay at Hellabrunn as part of the European Endangered Species Programme." As the population of Pallas's cats living in zoos is currently progressing well, there is no need to launch a breeding programme at Hellabrunn at present. The two cats will therefore live like many other species at Hellabrunn in a juvenile female group.

The Pallas's cats are native to the rocky steppes, deserts and low and high mountains of Central Asia. Their diet comprises primarily small mammals and birds, but also includes insects. The species is classified as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with the current population estimated at 15,000 individuals worldwide.

Hellabrunn Zoo is also committed to protecting the Pallas's cat in its natural habitat and will support the relatively new research project PICA (Pallas's Cat International Conservation Alliance) for the conservation of the natural population.

If you would like to support Hellabrunn Zoo in providing exceptional care for the Pallas' cats in Munich, you can do so through our Adopt an Animal programme. For the adoption of both animals, the sponsor will have the privilege of naming the cats. Sponsoring an animal at Hellabrunn Zoo not only supports the care and feeding of the animals adopted, but also the sustainable conservation of their fellow species in the wild.