The Ross Park Zoo on Binghamton's South Side is celebrating the birth of a litter of kittens to the facility's resident sand cats, Kaya and Amal.

Zoo executive director Phillip Ginter said the three kittens were born about a month ago. He said the recent arrivals and their parents all are healthy.

Sand cats typically live in desert environments. They can survive with very little water.

2023.03.15 SAND CATS-SIGN

Ginter told WNBF News that new-born sand cats have a relatively high mortality rate. He said the first two weeks of life is regarded as "the most critical period." He said the kittens have their eyes open and are doing well.

Ginter said they are starting to explore their habitat outside their nest box with their mother. He said they are quickly gaining weight and growing.

Kaya relaxing with her kittens on March 15, 2023. Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News
Kaya relaxing with her month-old kittens on March 15, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

While the "sand kittens" may look "cute and cuddly," Ginter said "they are wild animals." He said it's illegal for people to own sand cats - or any wild cat - in New York state.

Ginter said at first it was "pretty easy" for the zoo staff to do physicals and interact with the kittens because their eyes had yet to open and they were very complacent. Now, he said, "they're starting to show their wild nature and hissing and making it known that they do not appreciate us" checking on them.

Amal, the proud father of the Ross Park Zoo kittens, during a quiet moment. Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News
Amal, the proud father of the Ross Park Zoo kittens, during a quiet moment. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

Ginter said "they're beautiful to look at and, right now, they're completely adorable" - but they are wild.

The Ross Park Zoo is located on Morgan Road. The zoo's regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the last admission for the day at 3 p.m.

WATCH: WNBF News paid a visit to Ross Park Zoo to check out the sand cat kittens.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: or (607) 545-2250. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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