On April 30, 2020, the Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall, the United Kingdom, near the village of Lanreath, posted pictures of the new arrivals, which they said had been born about eight weeks earlier.
For the sanctuary, it was some much-needed excitement. “We are over the moon with the new babies as the majority of our animals are old and here for retirement,” they wrote. “As we are well into the 6th week of lockdown we wanted to share some positive news with you all!”
The pair of adult rusty-spotted cats (Prionailurus rubiginosus) came to the sanctuary almost by accident, as they had a spare enclosure to offer. They explained in their Facebook post, “As most of you know, we are a sanctuary for unwanted/surplus animals and do not actively take part in breeding.”
As most of you know, we are a sanctuary for unwanted/surplus animals and do not actively take part in breeding. However…
However, when the opportunity arose to have an adult pair of the cats, of which there are only about 50 in captivity around the world, it was too good to pass up. “The pair came from the Feral-Wild Animal Project run by Todd Dalton and are part of a breeding program,” a spokesperson for the sanctuary explained, according to The Daily Mail.
“The rusty-spotted cat is one of the smallest species of cat, therefore when we first saw the cubs they were only the size of large mice,” one of the carers at the sanctuary told Cornwall Live. Even when fully grown, the cats will only measure between 13 and 19 inches, smaller than many house cats.
So far, the new cubs are faring very well in their habitat. “They are both fit and healthy and developing their own personalities and seem to be gaining confidence every day,” one of the sanctuary’s staff, Sophie Kent, shared. “These two bundles of joy have kept our small team feeling positive during this confusing time.”
The carer added, “It’s been almost 8 weeks and we’ve loved watching them grow up and become more adventurous, however mom is always on guard and extremely protective of her babies.”
Perhaps one of the best parts about having the cubs is the way it has helped the sanctuary raise much-needed funds to care for all the rescued animals that live there.
They created a GoFundMe campaign to help make up for all the lost revenue in ticket sales due to the pandemic. The park’s annual opening date, April 1, fell right in the middle of lockdown.
They explained, “Our summer season brings in enough money to keep the park running throughout the winter. Unfortunately this year due to the weather we were unable to open for more than a couple of days during February [spring break].”
So far, the campaign has managed to raise 13,704 pounds (US$17,001) of its 20,000 pound (US$24,812) goal. In addition to the rusty-spotted cats, the sanctuary is home to many elderly animals that are living out their natural lives in this safe space. They explain on their GoFundMe page, “We house over 150 animals ranging from Zebra, Eland and Ostrich to Marmosets, Reptiles, Owls, Capybara, Coatis, Meerkats, a range of Lemur species and so on.”
With the attention these remarkable pint-sized cubs have been attracting, donations have been flowing in.
They’re hoping that a little help from feline lovers around the world will help them stay true to their mission: “For whatever reason [animals] come to us, they are always welcome and every single animal is given a HOME FOR LIFE.”