Photos: Rare fishing cats born at National Zoo in Washington

Photos: Rare fishing cats born at National Zoo in Washington

Credit: National Zoo

The kittens

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Associated Press

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 13 at 8:39 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Zoo in Washington is celebrating a milestone with the birth of two fishing cats, an endangered species.

Officials say the twin kittens were the first fishing cats to be bred and produced at the zoo. They were born to 7-year-old Electra on May 18.

The kittens and their mother are being monitored through a closed-circuit camera to give them time to bond. The kittens will make their public debut later this summer.

Officials say the kittens will become valuable breeders because their genes are not well represented in the captive population.

The zoo says fishing cats are disappearing from their native habitats in India and Southeast Asia due to water pollution, poaching and shrimp farming. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the species as endangered.

Fishing cats are named after their hunting technique. They mostly eat fish, frogs and aquatic birds. Officials say they tap their paws on the surface of the water, tricking prey into thinking the water ripples are from an insect. When the prey is close enough, the cat will either dive into the water after it or scoop it out using its partially webbed paw.

AP-WF-06-13-12 1214GMT

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