TWO new wildcat kittens, named after Disney’s new film set in the Highlands, have gone on view to the public at a north wildlife park.
Merida and Brave, the two-month-old Scottish wildcat kitten twins, were born at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig near Kingussie on April 8.
The twins are named after Brave, the new Disney animation film which features the adventures of a Highland princess named Merida and is due for release in the UK this summer.
The kittens have just been sexed by their keepers, and the wildlife park says the brother and sister act is already pretty adventurous, tumbling around with each other and practicing their pouncing.
Merida in particular seems to share more than just a name with the film’s main character as she has quite an adventurous and feisty personality. The kittens are certainly keeping proud parents, five-year-old mum Seasaidh and eight-year-old dad Hamish, busy.
Scottish wildcats, also known as Highland tigers, are one of Britain’s rarest animals with as few as 400 thought to be left in the UK, mainly in the Scottish Highlands.
The felines at first glance could be mistaken for a feral domestic cat, although they have several characteristics unique to wildcats such as wider heads, distinctive striped coats and blunt bushy tails.
Una Richardson, head keeper at the Highland Wildlife Park, said: "It is an exciting time for the Highland Wildlife Park, as we welcomed the arrival of our twin Scottish wildcat kittens, meaning we now have six Scottish wildcats in total.
"Twins ‘Brave’ and ‘Merida’, have become quite bold and are often seen exploring their enclosure and running along an overhead walkway. We think these little kittens are well suited to their names.
"As there are thought to be less than 400 Scottish wildcats left in the Highlands, these cats are incredibly rare and endangered so this is a huge milestone for this species and the park.
"Merida and Brave are the latest kittens of successful breeding pair Seasaidh and Hamish, the kittens will play a vital role in the conservation of this historic Scottish species along with increasing visitor awareness of the problems facing this most iconic Scottish animal."