We've never been ones to pass up an opportunity to show off manuls (also known as Pallas's cats). We've lost office productivity thanks to video clips of their furball kittens, we've admired that remarkable range of grumpy expressions, and now – thanks to footage released by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – we get to watch young manuls investigating a field camera.

The footage above was captured in the Zoolon Mountains of Mongolia, within the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. Cute factor aside, the video has conservationists very excited: these stumpy-legged wild cats (Otocolobus manul) are notoriously difficult to capture in their natural environment. In fact, according to David Barclay, the Cat Conservation Officer at the RZSS, this may be a one-of-a-kind sighting.

"This is the first footage of Pallas's cat cubs taken in this part of Mongolia as far as we know and is a valuable discovery from our project partners Snow Leopard Trust," Barclay told National Geographic.

Snow Leopard Trust, the organization that captured the footage, has been working in partnership with the RZSS and Nordens Ark under the banner of the Pallas's Cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA) since the group's formation at the beginning of the year. The cats, though not endangered, are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, and conservationists want to work toward better understanding the felines and their natural habitats.

"We still don’t know much about the Pallas's cat's behavior, or even it's true range," Nordens Ark conservation biologist and researcher Emma Nygren told Nat Geo. "If we're hoping to conserve this mysterious cat, we need to first understand it, and we're hoping this study will bring valuable new insights."

New footage like this will hopefully lead to an increased understanding of the cats' range and population numbers, both in Mongolia and in Iran and China, all of which are home to native manul populations. In the meantime, as is becoming tradition, here are some photos of the cats to show you out.

A manul in Zoo Zürich. Germany. (Karin Sturzenegger/Wikimedia Commons)
Manul kitten in Parken Zoo, Sweden. (Parken Zoo/Wikimedia Commons)
A sleeping manul in Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Japan. (pelican/Wikimedia Commons)
A manul in the Asia Quest exhibit at the Columbus Zoo, Ohio, United States. (Ian Francis/Wikipedia)
A manul lounges in a hollowed-out log in the Columbus Zoo, Ohio, United States. (Becker1999/Flickr)
Manul residing at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom. (Editfmah Adrian Herridge/Wikimedia Commons)


Top header image: Hubert K/Flickr