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Support for the flat-headed cats at Songhkla Zoo

Mysterious Flat-Headed Cat

The Flat-Headed Cat is a species that inhabits Brunea, Indonesia and Malaysia. Originally discovered in 1827, it was thought to be extinct for ten years. It is one of the least known species of wild cats. Not so long ago there was only one known female capable of breeding in captivity. At the moment in the rescue center founded by our foundation in Indonesia there is another female capable of carrying a pregnancy.

Songkhla Zoo

Songkhla Zoo has existed since 1998, and its construction continued for ten years. Currently the zoo is home to one of two females of the Flat-Headed Cat capable of breeding. It is located in south Thailand on the Malay Peninsula. Name of the Songkhla province comes from malayan word meaning “City of the Lions”. 

Support needed

Maintenance of the Flat-Headed Cat population in a zoo absorbs large funds. In 2022 only, the foundation will transfer 14 000 PLN towards five individuals inhabiting the zoo. In their natural habitat they feed on fish, which they drag away from the shore, to prevent them from escaping back into the water. Secondly they choose amphibians and fruit. In captivity, aside from fish, their diet is varied with raw chicken. 

What is the problem?

In the case of the Flat-Headed Cat it is necessary to conduct reproductive research. There is very little information about its behavior that determines the ability to detect heat or an early pregnancy. There is also not much information about the duration of pregnancy and the number of cubs. Without this, and much more, information there is an extremely low chance of any successful breeding in captivity. Providing the animal with conditions as close to natural as possible is key for its well-being, hence successful fertilization and maintenance of the pregnancy.

Observation of individuals in their natural environment is almost impossible, due to their extremely low number. In a ten year period, between 2008 and 2018, there were only 33 captures in a camera-trap placed in Borneo. It is possible to study behavior of the cats held in captivity, but it is most probably different to what occurs naturally.  

What's next?

Our foundation is planning on conducting research on the Flat-Headed Cat. In the rescue center in Indonesia that we founded, there are already representatives of the species. Young of the animals that are currently in Indonesia, are to be moved to a research center in Poland, which is planned to be built in 2024. Scientists working with the foundation will conduct broad research that will aim to fill the hole in knowledge about the cat. We hope that our project will succeed, and animals born at our center will be brought back to their natural habitats. 

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