‘Cute but ferocious’: North Carolina Zoo welcomes newborn sand cat

North Carolina news

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo’s newborn sand cat may be cute, but it’s ferocious!

On Monday, 3-year-old female sand cat Najma and 5-year-old male sand cat Cosmo welcomed their first kitten into the world.

The Zoo says the kitten is small enough to fit in a teacup.

Najma and as of yet unnamed baby are in a quiet, non-public viewing area in the closed Desert habitat.

According to the NC Zoo, there are only 13 facilities associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that have sand cats, and only six of those have breeding pairs. Only 33 sand cats are in AZA facilities.

That’s why the Zoo says seeing a kitten born at a zoo is a true marvel.

Sand cats are one of the world’s smallest feline species, weighing from four to eight pounds. On average, they measure about 30 inches long. Sand cats tend to live for about 10 to 12 years in human care.

The species, which is the only kind of cat found mainly in deserts, is native to North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

North African nomadic tribes know sand cats as “snake hunters.” They also eat small rodents, spiders and insects.

A word to the wise: zookeepers say appearances can be deceiving. These cats are wild and ferocious, and they should never be kept as pets.

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