Project information

Saving the Scottish Wildcat

The Scottish wildcat is critically endangered. Recent reports by the Scottish Wildcat Association indicate that less than 100 cats, perhaps as few as 35, may remain in the wild.

As Britain’s only remaining wild feline species protecting and conserving them means saving a piece of our history.

Building them a safe place to breed will take a matter of months. Saving them from extinction may take a while longer, but ultimately will give them back a lifetime and a future

Charity information: Chester Zoo

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  • Need


    Human-led deforestation and hunting to the brink of their extinction has left the few remaining wildcats that survived persecution now heavily outnumbered by human introduced feral domestic cats. This combined with population fragmentation means it has become almost impossible for the Scottish Wildcat to sustain their own species and will ultimately lead to their extinction unless we take immediate action.


    We will establish a brand new breeding programme based off-show at Chester Zoo. It is envisaged, that as part of the wider Scottish Wildcat conservation project our young, along with others being bred as part of the safety net population will be released back into the highlands of Scotland to re-establish populations there, in their natural environment. Once released we will monitor their progress using radio collars and help save one of the UK’s most endangered mammals.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Save the Scottish Wildcat from extinction through in-zoo conservation breeding


    » Create an off-show facility for two pairs of cats and a smaller facility for their young, reflecting their natural environment as closely as possible.
    » Install remote viewing to monitor activity of the cats and their kittens with minimum disturbance
    » Link footage into the zoo and /or online for the public to learn about the species and the actions being taken to save them

    What success will look like

    The creation of the wildcat building and successful breeding of Scottish Wildcats.

  • Impact


    Long term the plan is to begin releasing the young back into the Highlands of Scotland to create a population there. The youngsters may be fitted with radio collars to help monitor them and understand more about their survival in the wild.


    There is a risk that the cats could become habituated to humans. To reduce this risk the breeding facility will be off-show to the public and will have restricted staff access to their enclosure. With restrictions increased to the off-spring who we will aim to return to the wild within 12 months of being born.


    Project updates will be available via the Act for Wildlife blog online at and through the zoo's own website and reporting channels.

    Video footage of breeding successes and future releases of the cats will also be made available online.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £20,000 Build Creation of the breeding facility
      £10,000 Monitoring & Interpretation CCTV & IT equipment to monitor and broadcast the project

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Brian Wilson Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Private donor £5,000 Guaranteed
    France-Hayhurst Charitable Trust £7,500 Guaranteed
    Peter Foden Family Charitable Trust £500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Chester Zoo is located in the northwest of England but has conservation links globally.


    Populations of Scottish Wildcats will increase in wild, saving a piece of British history.

    1.4 million visitors to Chester Zoo will understand more about the ONLY remaining British feline in the wild.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are well known and respected for our excellent in-zoo breeding successes and animal management. Chester Zoo is also a leading visitor attraction that can actively generate the support and public interest needed to SAVE this UK species from extinction. We also have a reputation for undertaking breeding programmes that lead to release back into the wild.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tim Rowlands - Curator Of Mammals, Chester Zoo.

    Tim will be responsible for the breeding facility and the Scottish Wildcats whilst they are at Chester Zoo

    Sarah Bird - Biodiversity Officer, Chester Zoo.

    Sarah is our resident UK Wildlife expert and has been active in release programmes and monitoring