Come face-to-face with the adorable Pallas’ cats: The ultimate idols of the untamed feline realm.

As journalists who are fond of cats, we yearn for the comfort and affection our feline companions provide. But sometimes, we desire more than just an ordinary pet cat due to our busy schedules. This is where Pallas’s cats come in. The distinct appearance and expressive faces of these felines caught our attention, so we decided to visit Nasu Animal Kingdom in Tochigi Prefecture to meet them in person. Pallas’s cats are believed to be the oldest species among the Felidae family. They possess round pupils, a flat face, and thick fur that make them one-of-a-kind and adorable. Bol and Polly, the two resident Pallas’s cats at Nasu Animal Kingdom, have become famous online due to their peculiar hunting techniques and engaging videos. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Bol, who immediately sat on a stump in front of us. His fluffy fur and intense gaze left us captivated. According to Yuri Chiba, the animal keeper, the round pupils of Pallas’s cats give them an expression similar to humans. Interacting with these fascinating creatures was a rejuvenating experience, even though we may not be able to have a Pallas’s cat as a pet. We are grateful for the opportunity to see them up close and appreciate their unique beauty.

Polly, a Pallas’ cat, was recently seen approaching humans and displaying her love for walking on snow. Native to Central Asia, both Polly and Bol have adapted to living in extreme environments with hot summers and cold winters. They are covered in a thick layer of winter fur, making them well-suited for surviving the harsh Japanese winters. Polly exhibited stalking behavior while moving slowly with her body, tail, and limbs lowered, which is a characteristic of their hunting nature that the facility aims to encourage. Despite their adorable appearance, these cats have a wild nature and rarely meow, except during breeding season when males may hiss or meow menacingly.

Meet Bol, the Pallas’s cat, who loves to stretch but doesn’t enjoy being held. These cats are fierce creatures that require a shield when visitors enter their exhibition room, and they have a wild appetite for horsemeat. Despite their impressive nature, their population has suffered from indiscriminate hunting for their fur, causing them to be classified as a near-threatened species. However, they are now categorized as “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. In Japan, 16 of these unique felines are protected in zoos and animal parks from contagious diseases. Observing them during our visit, we discovered that they were not only cute but also had diverse expressions and movements that were fascinating. We left with a renewed determination to help protect these animals and a yearning to see them again soon!

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