A historical specimen of the Fishing Cat, Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) (Carnivora, Felidae) from Singapore in the zoological collection of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden

Wan F.A. Jusoh, Marcus A.H. Chua, Piet A. .J. Bakker, Pepijn Kamminga, Daniele Weiler, Kees Rookmaaker, Martyn E.Y. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The Fishing Cat is not a species known to inhabit Singapore. However, a historical specimen stated to have come from Singapore in 1819 and attributed to Pierre-Medard Diard (RMNH.MAM.59688) is now housed at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands. Two hundred years after it was obtained, the mounted skin and skull of this specimen, including specimen labels, were photographed and digitally catalogued. Four sets of annotations from labels and a document detailing records and a receipt of specimens sent by Diard to Leiden are presented to ascertain the specimen's identity, followed by a historical account of Diard based on a reconstruction of the timeline of key events of Singapore's natural history. Subsequently, the specimen is examined to confirm its taxonomic identity using comparative morphometrics with other museum specimens, and data associated with the specimen are analysed to determine the origins of this specimen. We conclude that the current evidence does not allow confirmation of the specimen's status as having been collected in Singapore or being obtained from the pet trade. If the specimen was an imported specimen, it would point towards a trade in rare and large animals in Singapore and the region from as early as 1819. Presently, the specimen remains one of the few extant zoological specimens obtained in Singapore in 1819 and the only one currently known outside of England.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalZoosystematics and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • digital repatriation
  • Felis leucojalamus
  • first Singapore expedition
  • history of mammalogy
  • Pierre-Medard Diard
  • Stamford Raffles
  • zoological collection

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