When 32-year-old Pete MacNab went for a walk in the Scottish Highlands, he expected to get some fresh air. He didn’t know that he and his friend, Piotr, were about to rescue a critically endangered animal.
The men were strolling through Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park when they noticed a flock of sheep standing over what looked like a tiny stray kitten. As the pair got closer, the sheep scattered, allowing MacNab and his friend to see the kitten was nearly frozen to death in the snow.
“The animal was in a very poor state curled up in a ball in the snow, absolutely motionless,” McCab later recalled. “We tried to coax the feline back up and onto its feet but as we were trying to assist, it was becoming apparent that the tiny ball of fluff was quite severely unwell. It was so small it fit perfectly in one hand.”
The kitten couldn’t walk or stand on its own, so Pioter scooped the injured animal into his arms, because this tiny creature clearly needed veterinary care. Over the course of their long walk back to town, Pioter noted the animal’s claws felt like “miniature razors,” leading him to joke they might have saved a wild animal. But the sick creature also looked like a lost runaway kitten, leading the friends to post about the missing kitten on Facebook. If nobody claimed him, they agreed, one of the them would give the rescued kitten a home.
“During this time, we had a fair bonding session with the cat, with my friend Piotr becoming quite emotionally attached to our new little friend carrying it for several miles,” Pete recalled. The pair decided to named the little runaway Huntleigh.
But as it turnsout, the friends really had saved a wild animal, according to the vet, who realized that Huntleigh wasn’t your average runway kitten. Pete and Pioter had actually rescued a Scottish wildcat — the most endangered animal in Europe. Conservationists believe there are only 100 to 300 of Scottish wildcats left in the wild.
But sadly, the baby wildcat didn’t’ survive his ordeal, dealing another blow to the fate of this critically endangered species. The vet had quickly given the kitten glucose with warm water in an effort to revive him, but the baby wildcat was already too far gone.
Pete and Pioter were gutted about Huntleigh’s fate, but they decided to turn their grief into action. The pair has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Saving Wildcats, a UK conservation group dedicated to saving Scottish wildcats from extinction. Donate here if you’d like to help them save this critically endangered species.
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