A rare Sand cat kitten was born in Israel three weeks ago, and made its first public appearance this week. Sand cats, also known as sand dune cats, are small and stocky felines which live in North African and Middle Eastern deserts.
The kitten was born at the Zoological Center – Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, and is named Renana, meaning “joy” or “song” in Hebrew. Renana is the first Sand cat ever born at the Ramat Gan Safari. Three weeks ago, Renana’s mother, Rotem, refused to come inside for the night, and the following evening, she gave birth to Renana in an outdoor enclosure.
With pale yellow fur, the Felis margarita, or Sand cat, lives in burrows in areas that are even too hot for the African wildcat. The Sand cat no longer exists in the wild in Israel, and is endangered in other habitats including the Sahara and deserts of Iran and Pakistan.
Renana is expected to join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program which plans to reintroduce sand cats into the wild. The Zoological Center Tel Aviv- Ramat Gan, where Renana was born, hopes that the kitten will help remove the species from risk of extinction.