On June 4, the Espace Pour La Vie (Space for Life) Biodôme in Montréal welcomed three Lynx kittens into the world. The kittens are developing normally with their mother’s attentive care. She diligently nurtures her little ones, nursing them, cleaning them and keeping them warm. Their first medical exam found that they are one male and two females, all growing healthy and fast. Ten weeks after the birth, the kittens and their mother transitioned to a new home: a Laurentian maple forest exhibit viewable by the public. Their arrival in the habitat signals a new phase in their development, during which they will hone their reflexes with their mother’s help. Visitors can see the Lynx kittens playing together, interacting with their mother and exploring their environment freely. The father will be kept separately in the nighttime quarters, as the female could perceive him as a threat to her offspring.
Both adult Lynx are seven years old, and this is the third time the pair have reproduced at the Biodôme—a clear sign that they are healthy and happy in their habitat. In the summer of 2012, the female gave to litter of three, but only one kitten survived to adulthood. Caretakers at the Biodôme decided to supplement that kitten’s diet with bottle-feeding while allowing it to continue nursing from its mother. In January of 2013, the healthy adult offspring moved to another institution to be paired with another lynx for breeding. This year’s litter is growing even more quickly under the care of the more-experienced mother; this time, caretakers did not need to intervene with extra feedings. As the captive Lynx population’s growth rate is very low, the birth of new kittens increases its genetic diversity. This year's litter may eventually be moved to other institutions to form new breeding pairs.
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As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Biodôme actively participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which seeks to establish optimal management of endangered species populations in captivity. The Lynx also take part in the AZA’s enrichment and training programs. The enrichment program aims to ensure better physical and psychological health for animals by stimulating their natural behaviors. The training program teaches animals to adopt certain behaviors to make veterinary actions or handling easier during medical exams and therefore keep the animal's stress to a minimum.