(Otocolobus manul)




Facts about this animal

The manul or Pallas' cat is a small cat with a broad head and low set ears. The head-body length is 50-65 cm and it weights 2.5-4.5 kg. The tail is 21-31 cm in length and rather thick, with a broad black terminal tuft, preceded by five or six narrow black rings. The coat is extremely thick, dense, and soft, with abundant dark underwool. These characteristics are indicative of adaptations to the cold.

The colour varies from light grey to yellowish buff and russet. The white tips of the hair produce a frosted appearance. No spinal band exists, but there are some faint black stripes on the sides. The fur on the underside is dark and longer than above. There is no marked sexual dimorphism.

Did you know?
that the vernacular name used in English, Pallas' Cat, came from the first scientist to describe the species, the German zoologost Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811)? In 1767 Pallas was invited by Catherine II of Russia to became a professor at the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and between 1769 and 1774 he led an expedition to Siberia collecting natural history specimens on their behalf. He explored the upper Amur, the Caspian Sea, and the Ural and Altai mountains, reaching as far eastward as Lake Baikal.


Name (Scientific) Otocolobus manul
Name (English) Manul
Name (French) Chat manul
Name (German) Manul
Name (Spanish) Gato manul, Gato de Pallas
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Vladimír Motyčka



Range Central Asia
Habitat Steppes, deserts, rocky plateaus and treeless rocky mountainsides
Wild population Russia: 2000-2200 (Tyva) and 2100-3000 (Chita), respectively. The populations of Altai: 450-550 and Buryatia:250-350 individuals (2007) ( Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 180 registered by the International studbook, of which 162 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements and sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. Preferably, a double door design at least on one end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door should have bars or wire mesh to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal or plywood that provides safety for the handlers and isolation for the animal. The doors should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and food as may be required should be provided while the animal is in transit.


For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Although the manul is rated only as "Near Threatened", an International Studbook was set up in 1997 under the WAZA umbrella, and zoos maintain now a largely self-sustained population managed under regional conservation breeding programmes by AZA and EAZA.


As not much is known about wild Pallas' cats, the zoo population forms the basis of research projects which will increase our knowledge about this rare species. Research in the United States established that Pallas’ cats have a pronounced reproductive seasonality controlled by light exposure and that newborns are extremely susceptible to Toxoplasmosis, a protozoan infection.


Zoos also supported field studies in Mongolia to measure range sizes of wild Pallas’ cats by radiotelemetry, which are important with a view of introducing effective conservation measures.