As two journalists from Yomiuri Shimbun, we share a deep love for cats and their comforting presence. Unfortunately, our busy schedules often leave us longing for the nourishment they provide. In search of something unique and special, we decided to visit Nasu Animal Kingdom in Tochigi Prefecture to meet the oldest species in the Felidae family – Pallas’s cats, also known as manul.
The distinct round pupils, wide eyes, and thick fur of these cats make them stand out in the plains of countries such as Russia and Mongolia. Bol, a seven-year-old male Pallas’s cat born in Japan, and Polly, a six-year-old female from Sweden, reside in Nasu Animal Kingdom and have gained popularity among Pallas’s cat enthusiasts with their peculiar hunting methods and varied facial expressions.
During our visit, we were greeted by Bol, sitting silently on a stump in front of a glass wall. His round, furry presence was even more adorable than we imagined, and we couldn’t help but scream like enthusiastic pop star fans. Their unique horizontal pupils give them a distinctive appearance and make their facial expressions stand out among other cat species.
Overall, our encounter with Pallas’s cats was a memorable experience that showcased their unique characteristics, making them a fascinating species to observe.
As we strolled through the snowy terrain, we stumbled upon Polly, a Pallas’ cat with a unique love for snow. These felines are native to Central Asia, an area known for its extreme weather conditions. Adapting to their surroundings, Pallas’ cats sport a thick fur coat making them well-equipped for survival in harsh environments. Surprisingly, these wild cats can also endure the cold winters of Japan without issue. During our encounter with Polly, she exhibited her natural predatory instincts, sneaking up on her prey with a slow and careful approach. Although these cats may appear adorable, it’s important to remember that they maintain their wild behavior, rarely meowing, and instead emitting menacing hisses to intimidate their opposition. To help preserve their instinctual nature, the facility allows them to exhibit their natural behaviors while still ensuring their comfort.
Bol the Pallas’s cat is seen lounging around and stretching his body. These cool cats are impossible to hold in your arms, and when visiting them, protective gear is necessary to avoid getting hurt. It’s a must-see to witness Pallas’s cats devouring horsemeat, as they seem to convey the message, “Don’t underestimate us!” The attitude of Polly reminds us that these cats were once threatened by indiscriminate hunting for their fur, leading to a decline in their population. Although they are now classified as “least concern,” zoos and animal parks in Japan have taken measures to protect them. Despite being susceptible to contagious diseases and naturally inhabiting high altitudes, Pallas’s cats remain full of energy and curiosity even in captivity. With diverse expressions and movements, these adorable and fascinating animals have captured our hearts, and we are more determined than ever to raise awareness about protecting them. We look forward to seeing them again soon!