Two wildcats from the Opel Zoo in Kronberg have now been brought outdoors to be resettled.

The two animals were brought to the zoo last fall as six-week-old cats, where they have been cared for ever since.

The return of the two young tomcats to nature is being scientifically accompanied by wildlife biologists and veterinarians from the Wildlife Research Working Group at the Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fishes at the University of Giessen.

Animals were fitted with GPS collars to track and evaluate the reintroduction of zoo-reared feral cats.

Wolfram Ahlers

Correspondent for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung for central Hesse and the Wetterau.

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In preparation for being released into the wild, the animals were taken to a temporary enclosure run by the forestry office in Weilrod im Taunus.

There, any contact with people beyond feeding was avoided.

There, the cats have the opportunity to leave their enclosure and move into the surrounding forests.

At first they are given food.

Species quickly became self-sufficient

However, previous releases of this species had shown that they were apparently able to feed themselves quickly in the wild, as they soon did not come back to eat.

The movements are registered and analyzed by the scientists at Giessen University using the location data.

The wild cat is a protected species and must not be taken from its natural habitat.

Unfortunately, it often happens that found wild cat young are mistakenly perceived as abandoned, even though the mother is only out hunting for a short time or is even nearby, says Teresa Nava from the Wildlife Research Working Group.

Even if it is certain that the mother animal will not return, orphaned young cats should only be placed in professional care.

Because rearing and re-release are demanding and expensive.

Wild cats are tracked by GPS

The scientific monitoring of the release of the two cats from the Opel Zoo is embedded in the project "Space use behavior of wild cats in the Hörre forest area as a basis for spatial and network planning" of the Wildlife Research Working Group.

In cooperation with the Federal Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND) and the Institute for Animal Ecology and Nature Education Laubach and with the support of the Wetzlar Forestry Office, wild cats in the Lahn-Dill district have been fitted with GPS collars and tracked telemetrically for a good two years.

The research project is funded by the Hessian State Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology from the state's biodiversity research fund.

Since the data obtained represents an important basis for future spatial and network planning, the Gießen regional council is also participating in the research project of the Gießen scientists with funds from the biodiversity strategy.