The San Diego Zoo’s first pair of servals arrived in 1944. Over the years, we have had over 20 servals born at the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Often mistaken for young cheetahs by zoo visitors, our serval animal ambassadors are helping make servals a little more familiar. The Zoo’s Shani and the Safari Park’s Zuri, with their trainers, of course, spread the word about servals in the wild. Zuri’s family members, including parents Bella and Jabari and sister Tani, are on exhibit at the Park. Shani can be seen in the Zoo’s Children’s Zoo when a keeper takes her out for a stroll.
Serval populations in the wild have declined but are not considered endangered except for one subspecies, the North African serval Leptailurus serval constantinus. However, like all wild animals, servals can be harmed by habitat loss, global climate change, and hunting for their beautiful fur. It takes the skin of many servals to produce one coat. Fortunately, in many parts of the world the wearing of animal-skin coats for fashion is no longer popular. Sadly, servals are also hunted for sport in southern Africa.
Servals are important to their human neighbors because they catch rodents, which carry diseases and contaminate food supplies. With fewer than 300 servals in zoos around the world and less than 150 in US zoos, getting to know this beautiful feline is a special treat for any animal lover!