Report 2002

Panther Playground/Animal Park Tallahassee
In 2000, CLaRF helped transport the "Mozart Kittens" to their new home at The Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science. Now, of course, the kittens are no kittens anymore, they have become adult Panthers. Nacoche, which means "Little Girl", is the female's name. Choachobee, meaning "Panther", is the male Panther's name. Since they are native Floridians they received Indian names, of course.

They also received a playground! The first part of it, that is. In time we shall add more pieces to turn it into a full enrichment playground. Cat Life paid for the materials and the welding.

And everybody pitched in to set it up:

Nacoche and Chobee are secured in their holding cages - we sure did not like for them to "help" us...and the rest is teamwork...

After several hours of work in the Florida heat ...

...the play structure was ready to go... were the Panthers! After some initial uncertainty...

...Nacochee declared the tube to be HER napping place!
Visit To Germany
Munich and Dresden
In areas with many farmers big cats have a hard time all over the world. When we visited Africa in 2001 we learned about the trapping and relocating of Cheetahs and Leopards who had started killing livestock.

The same problems exists for jaguars in South America - namely in Venezuela. Dr. Henning Wiesner, the director of the Zoo Munich, has traveled to Venezuela several times to try to establish a functioning program for anaethesizing and relocating the big cats. He enlists the help of the local people, farmers and hunters alike, to educate them about this alternative for dealing with the cats. After all, all the cats in South America are protected by law. The local cooperation is of course crucial for success. Unfortunately, the political landscape in Venezuela is not very stable. Dr. Wiesner said he had run into major problems trying to set up a functioning program. We hope that the future will bring good news. CLaRF offered a grant if a working program can be put together.

The Zoo Dresden was almost completely destroyed during World War II. It was partially rebuilt during the following years. However, when Dr. H. Luecker took over in 1991 he had a lot of work to do: all the exhibits were done with concrete and iron bars - just like the old times. Since then, Dr. Luecker has done an exceptional job in modernizing the entire zoo. He establishes enrichment programs for all the animals. He took us on a tour through the zoo where we noticed that all the animals recognized him by lifting their heads of even coming up to greet him! His efforts are well appreciated. CLaRF expressed an interest in another program Dr. Luecker mentioned. He wants to help a small zoo in Kirgistan to establish a snow leopard research program. They want to take care of injured and orphaned cats as well as leading outdoor studies to collect data about the snow leopard population. However, it seems there have been problems since we haven't heard back from Dr. Luecker.
Wildcat Project
European wildcats are somewhat plumper than the average housecat: Their legs and paws are wider, the hairs are longer and the coat itself is thicker. They have a thick, bushy tail with a blunt tip. The dark rings are clearly visible.

CLaRF talked with Karsten Hupe from the University of Goettingen/Germany. In one of the German magazines there was an article about the wildcat project he works on for his doctoral thesis. He uses blowdarts (just iike Dr. Wiesner does for the jaguars) to immobilize the cats. Examinations are performed, measurements are taken, and the cats are outfitted with a radiotransmitting collar (it disintegrates after a while) to collect data.

The European Wildcats are an endangered species, in fact their behavior is less known than that of lions! The wildcats live mostly in the mountain ranges of Northern Germany. Outdoor studies in this area are time consuming and work intensive, involving a lot of driving around and then tracking the cats on foot. Karsten's project is awaited with excitement by all the experts. It will be one of the first thorough studies of the elusive wildcats wih new and interesting data. CLaRF offered a grant for the travel expenses involved. The Niedersachsen Government Agency for Environment and Ecology finances the rest of the study.

Our official cooperation did not start until 2003. On the following page there is some initial information about the wildcat behavior.

The female cats, the queens, occupy a territory of about 200 to 2000 ha (appr. 500 to 5000 acres), the male cats command a range of about 3500 to 5000 ha (appr. 2000 to 8750 acres). The cats avoid people, and since they are strictly nocturnal it is very challenging to collect information about them. Interestingly, a blood test revealed that there has not been any crossbreeding between wildcats and housecats during the last 25 to 30 years.

The queen has a litter of about two to three kittens, mostly in January to March. The kittens live with their mothers for about 10 months. After that - in time for the new breeding season - mom chases them away.

Outlook 2003
So far, Cat Life and Research Foundation has not given a grant to Africat. There have been changes in their board of directors (Lise Hansen left) - we don't know yet if there will be contact in the future.

We are still working on setting up the by-laws in the States. There already has been an initial contact and visit with a big cat sanctuary in Texas - we are waiting to hear from them.

The cooperation on the Wildcat Project has, of course, started. There will be results in the next CLaRF report!

And - as usual - we are always open for new contacts and recommendations! If you want further information about the programs mentioned please let us know.

This year the CLaRF report will be available on our website only. The tax return for the year 2002 can be obtained from us upon request (see address below).
To all friends of Cat Life and Research Foundation a big THANK YOU for your interest and your help. May the coming year be a good one for all of us.

Cat Life Foundation
P.O. Box 16126
Tallahassee, FL 32317-6126
Phone: (850) 491-1300
Web Site: