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Oregon Zoos African Caracal gives birth to kittens

All three newborns are doing well, zoo officials say
by: Michael Durham Zoo veterinary technician Kelli Harvison holds one of the baby caracals during a medical exam. The kittens are all doing well.

Three African Caracal cat kittens were born June 8 at the Oregon Zoo.

The first-time mother named Peggy and all three kittens are doing well. The kittens are two females and a male. They are nursing regularly and starting to move around their behind-the-scenes nesting box, according to zoo officials.

'We are very proud of Peggy,' said senior Africa keeper Asaba Mukobi. 'It's really amazing to see her do everything she possibly can to care for her kittens. She's very protective, makes sure everyone is nursing, and sets boundaries for the kittens now that they're moving around.'

For two days after the birth, animal care staff monitored Peggy and the kittens around the clock via remote camera. Keepers had volunteered for four-hour night shifts as part of a birth plan that mapped out keeper care for the final two weeks of Peggy's pregnancy, the birth itself and the kittens' first few days.

'Keeper care before and after the birth has been amazing,' said Mukobi. 'From setting up Peggy's nesting box to sleeping on cots at the zoo between their night shifts, our staff was dedicated to ensuring Peggy's and the kittens' health. Thankfully, Peggy didn't need much help from us. She is doing a great job.'

Keepers and volunteers continue to monitor the caracals throughout the day, and their nighttime activity is recorded by camera and reviewed in the morning.

The father named Cricket is on display in the zoo's Predators of the Serengeti exhibit. Although the mother and kitten will not be on display in the foreseeable future, a video of them can be seen at http://bit.ly/caracal_kittens.

Caracals live in the woodlands and savannas of North Africa, Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. They are slender, muscular cats, with long legs, a short tail and distinctive pointy ears. Males typically weigh 29 to 40 pounds, while females weigh about 24 pounds.

While Caracals are listed in the category of 'least concern' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, hunting and habitat loss pose risks to wild populations.

The zoo's Predators of the Serengeti exhibit was built with the support of Portland General Electric. It includes a heated den and a spacious landscape dotted with trees, shrubs, heated rocks and grassy knolls.