NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Caracal kittens are one of the more popular exhibits nowadays at the Nashville Zoo, especially for the kids.

“Our caracal kittens are located in the veterinarian hospital where people can come and view them every day,” explained Dr. Heather Schwartz, Nashville Zoo Lead Veterinarian. “There is also the News 2 Nashville Zoo Nursery Cam where you can watch them and watch their antics. They are always playing.”

“So, when people come to the zoo, they can come up to the veterinary health care clinic and actually watch us do procedures. But also come into the nursery and see any of the babies that we have. Right now, we have a civet. And we have Caracal Kittens in our viewing windows. People can come out and see them, visit with our interpreters, talk to them, and ask questions. So, it’s a great place to visit. We’re located behind the farm, past the lorikeets. It’s worth the walk up to take a look at these babies, for sure.”

And you won’t see these kittens at just any zoo, and the Nashville Zoo is doing its part to provide them to others.

“They are very rare in North American Zoos,” Dr. Schwartz pointed out. “I think right now they are only in the forties, and we contributed about half of that population. So, you don’t see them as often in zoos anymore. And we’re trying to change that.

“These are part of the species survival plan, or one of the few if only zoos that are breeding currently at the moment. And so, a lot of zoos want to use these as ambassadors to tell about the African cats. So, we’ve had our breeding program here so we can provide those to other zoos.”

And so far, they’ve had fourteen babies at the Nashville Zoo!

“These guys were hand-reared here since they were born,” Dr. Schwartz explained. “And they’ll be here until they are at least three months old when they will probably go out to another zoo, but we have not determined that yet.”

And it is interesting to watch the changes they go through as they grow.

“Caracal kittens are amazing. You are going to notice that their eyes are going to change color,” Dr. Schwartz said. “So, enjoy this blue while you can. We’re already noticing their starting to turn.”

And eventually, they will be rather large wild animals and not something you can cuddle with like when they were kittens.”

“They’re going to get to be about thirty-five pounds, forty pounds, and they’re really acrobatic,” Dr. Schwartz explained. “You’ll see as they keep getting older, they’re going to start climbing, pouncing around, and jumping. They’re really good bird hunters in the wild. So, they can jump and leap pretty high in the air.”

So, head on up the Zoo Trail to the veterinarian hospital and enjoy viewing these playful kittens as they grow.