The Curraghs Wildlife Park has welcomed a new resident with the arrival of a male Fishing Cat.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was delighted to assist the Park with transporting ‘Arun’, who had travelled from a zoo in Sweden. This is the latest animal transfer the Company has assisted with this year, having previously helped the Wildlife Park transport a Red Panda, Brazilian Tapir, Roul-roul Partridge, Kookaburra and pairs of Ring-tailed Lemurs and Dik-diks as part of important breeding programmes.

Fishing Cats are medium-sized wild cats from south and south-east Asia, and in 2008 they were officially classified as endangered by the IUCN due to the loss of their wetland habitats. Over the last decade, the Fishing Cat population throughout much of its Asian range declined severely.

It is hoped the new arrival will breed with a female kitten born at the Wildlife Park in 2012, one of only 10 Fishing Cats born in captivity in the world that year.

Wildlife Park General Manager Kathleen Graham said: ‘We are really pleased to have this new male arrive as part an international breeding programme. The Fishing Cat EEP (European Endangered Breeding Programme) carefully co-ordinates breeding “matches” to ensure that the captive population are genetically healthy. There are also American region and Australian-Asia regions of the studbook, with all three regions co-operating on a global level to ensure, through captive population, that this cat does not become extinct.

‘We have an older female who gave birth to a female kitten in 2012 and we were pleased when we bred the kitten as she was one of only 10 born that year in the global studbook. We hope the new male Arun will breed with our young female and help strengthen the number of Fishing Cats.’

She added: ‘The Steam Packet Company has been extremely helpful in assisting with the transport of animals to and from the Park, and I would like to thank them once again for their support.’

The Park in Ballaugh has three linked Fishing Cat enclosures that allow the cats to be brought together and separated as required. This is important as often males are only tolerated by females during the breeding process.

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘The Wildlife Park is not only a popular attraction for Island residents and visitors, but also plays a vital role in breeding programmes which help ensure the survival of endangered animals.

‘We are very proud of the Isle of Man’s role in this important work, and delighted to be able assist with transporting the animals.’