BOISE, Idaho — Nala and Simba at Zoo Boise welcomed three male baby sand cats into the world on April 4th, 2021. This is Nala and Simba’s first litter of kittens and the first sand cats ever born at Zoo Boise.
The sand cat kittens weighed an average of 90 grams each at birth, or about half a pound for all three kittens. Full-grown sand cats weigh between three and seven and a half pounds.
The kittens are also the first sand cats born in 2021 at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The births are vital for the conservation of sand cats worldwide.
There are only 51 sand cats in zoos accredited by the AZA, meaning Zoo Boise is 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 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.”
Sand cats are found in the arid deserts of Africa’s Sahara desert, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of central Asia. Sand cats are small and ferocious, they are opportunistic hunters and have been known to attack and eat venomous snakes.
You can find the sand cats at Zoo Boise’s Small Animal Kingdom, but you will likely have to wait a few weeks to see the new kittens. They are still in their den box and as Nala feels more comfortable, she will allow her kittens to start exploring the exhibit.
"Right now, the sand cats are still in their den box," said Jeff Agosta, Marketing Coordinator for Zoo Boise. "Mom's being very protective, she's being a great mom for being a first-time mom, so we're hoping the next two or three weeks that mom will allow them to start to explore their new exhibit and guests will be able to enjoy these three rambunctious boys."