ZooBorns Cats! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos looks so slight. I was not expecting anything more than a pleasant collection of cute baby animal pictures, but authors Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland use the photos (from many zoo photographers) to instruct readers on the state of the world's wild cats. The words "endangered," "vulnerable," and "threatened" appear repeatedly in their brief descriptions, which note than many of the world's wild cats suffer from habitat loss, poaching, and competition from feral animals. Some may disappear from the wild soon because their plight has only recently discovered. These secretive, often nocturnal cats are so poorly understood that conservationists are uncertain what efforts will be effective in saving them.
ZooBorns Cats! may also be one of the most extensive publicly available lists of wild cat species. I had never heard of several of these cats, including the rusty-spotted cat from India and Sri Lanka, the Iriomote cat from Japan, and Guina from the Andes Mountains of Chile and Argentina. The authors claim to have some of the only pictures ever published of some of these little-known cats. In presenting the photos as they do, with some zoo spaces, equipment, and personnel evident, the authors introduce the idea that zoos have species survival plans that involve selected breeding and protection of habitats.
Despite the serious underlying message, you may still look through ZooBorns Cats! for pleasure. My favorite cats are the little snow leopards, sand cats, and Canada lynx. What are yours? You may see more zoo babies at Bleiman and Eastland's website ZooBorns.com.
Bleiman, Andrew and Chris Eastland. ZooBorns Cats! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos. Simon & Schuster, 2011. 149p. ISBN 9781451651904.