Utah Zoo Welcomes World’s Deadliest — But Most Beautiful Cat

Utah's Hogle Zoo recently welcomed Gaia, an eight-month-old black-footed cat, renowned as the deadliest feline on Earth. Described as "small in size but large in her feisty personality," Gaia has captured the hearts of visitors since her arrival on December 28, according to the Salt Lake City-based zoo. This adorable petite species, recognized as the smallest wild cat in Africa, is celebrated for its remarkable survival skills, boasting an impressive hunting success rate of 60%, as reported by Smithsonian Mag.

A Black-Footed Cat at Utah zoo

The decision to bring Gaia to Utah's Hogle Zoo was influenced by the Black-Footed Cat Consortium, which provided valuable insights for breeding purposes. With only 29 black-footed cats in the Consortium, successful breeding at the zoo is expected to make a significant contribution to the program. The urgency to breed these nocturnal creatures stems from their vulnerable status, as highlighted by the Felidae Conservation Fund.

Black-footed cats are primarily found in Namibia, Central and Southern Botswana, and South Africa. These captivating creatures typically measure around eight inches in length and weigh between two to five pounds. The name "black-footed" is derived from the distinctive black and dark brown soles, or pads, found on their fur.

a Black-footed cat

Within the zoo's premises, another black-footed cat named Ryder resides, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to meet his fellow feline. However, due to Gaia's tender age, their introduction has been postponed. Gaia's arrival follows the unfortunate passing of Sanura, a record-breaking cat at Hogle Zoo, who held the title of the oldest black-footed cat in accredited zoos, having lived a remarkable 18.5 years. In September, the zoo announced that Sanura succumbed to multiple age-related symptoms, leaving behind a void that will be deeply felt.

The zoo fondly remembers Sanura for her spirited personality and her ability to effortlessly channel the infamous "grumpy cat" side-eye glare. Among her cherished pastimes were indulging in dirt baths, observing the tortoises from her window, and fashioning cozy dens from piles of hay.

Black-footed cat

Hogle Zoo stands as a sanctuary for a diverse array of animals, representing various ecosystems. As a non-profit, accredited organization, the zoo is driven by a noble mission to cultivate advocates for wildlife, as stated on its official website.


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