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Three sand cat kittens born at North Carolina Zoo

<i>Courtesy of North Carolina Zoo</i><br/>The North Carolina Zoo announced three sand cat kittens were born on May 11.
Courtesy of North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo announced three sand cat kittens were born on May 11.

By Ashley R. Williams, CNN

(CNN) — Animal lovers can now witness three times the cuteness at the North Carolina Zoo.

Three sand cat kittens were born on May 11 to first-time mother Sahara, 3, and father, Cosmo, 9, according to the North Carolina Zoo.

The weeks-old kittens, who were tiny enough to fit in a person’s palm at birth, are starting to explore their home at the zoo’s Desert Habitat, according to zoo officials.

The public will soon get a chance to weigh in on what their names should be in a poll, the zoo said, adding details would be shared on its social media pages and website.

The kittens mark the North Carolina Zoo’s third animal birth in less than two weeks. A baby male giraffe calf was born on May 20 and a baby male chimpanzee was born the following day.

Cosmo and Sahara were paired through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Sand Cat Species Survival Plan, “which aims to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population of sand cats to increase their numbers,” the North Carolina Zoo said in the release.

The association’s institutions house over 50 sand cats.

Despite the cute appearance of the felines – who have big eyes and a petite frame – the cats are a ferocious animal that zookeepers warn shouldn’t be kept as a pet, according to the zoo.

Native to deserts in Asia, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, sand cats are the only felines that live in exclusively desert environments, the zoo said.

Sand cats are among the world’s tiniest felines, weighing up to eight pounds and reaching an average length of 20 inches, according to the North Carolina Zoo.

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