African Serval

Leptailurus serval

Our resident servals are "Pryia", "Sebastian" and "Francesca".  Pryia is a young female that should become mature in the next year.  We hope that she will be an excellent mother, but captive bred servals are not always so.  That is how we came to hand raise Sebastian & Fancesca.  These young twins were the first cats to be born here at the Branson's Promised Land Zoo, November 20, 2013, and their mother was unable to rear them.  While keeping the young warm she wasn't able to produce any milk and the two, young, helpless kittens had to be raised by our dedicated zookeepers.  At six weeks old, and by then fully vaccinated, the young kittens are no longer helpless; they are over 3 pounds each and eager to explore the world around them!  By the age of six weeks, bottle feedings by keepers are slowly replaced by meals of meat and small animals to teach the young cats to eat properly on their own.  They are also introduced to the public in the form of Exclusive Encounters, which can be booked at the front desk.  We also use African Servals in the Live Animal Shows occassionally.

It is a strong yet slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. Due to its leg length, it is relatively one of the tallest cats. The head is small in relation to the body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the serval is boldly spotted black on tawny, with two or four stripes from the top of the head down the neck and back, transitioning into spots.  The serval is native to Africa, where it is widely distributed south of the Sahara. 

Gestation lasts from 66 to 77 days and commonly results in the birth of two kittens, although sometimes as few as one or as many as four have been recorded.  Life expectancy is about 10 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.

Here at PLZ, they will eat a combination of commercial diet formulated for them and meat or whole prey items.  Their diet is very important for proper growth and will also be on a schedule of vitamins.

Interesting Facts:

¨ Servals have the longest legs of any cat, relative to their body size. A caracal’s hind legs are noticeably longer than his front legs.

¨ Like many cats, the serval is able to purr.  The serval also has a high-pitched chirp, and can hiss, cackle, growl, grunt, and meow.

¨ The name serval is derived from a Portuguese word which means wolf-deer.

¨ The serval’s hind legs are longer than the front ones.

Newborn servals, serval kittens at one week, Jungle Josh and serval kittens at one week, serval snuggles, Jungle Josh on Power 96.5 with Serval Kittens 2013