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Canada Lynx ‘Girl Group’ Goes On-Exhibit

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The four female Canada Lynx kittens, at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, have been named and officially moved into their Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit on July 19.

The fuzzy headed litter was a ZooBorns feature back in mid-June: “Meet Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Canada Lynx Kittens”. They have been with their mother in an off-exhibit area since their birth on May 6, and now the kittens and ten-year-old mom, Migina, will join dad, Kajika (also ten-years-old) in the main exhibit.

Keepers reported that the litter “howdied” with dad Kajika multiple times prior to being moved on-exhibit. The Zoo defines “howdied” as: a process where they can see and smell each other with a mesh barrier in between them. The kittens and Kajika were said to be curious about each other and vocalized back and forth. They have also sniffed each other’s paws and rubbed up against the mesh. Zookeepers said these were all good signs that the Lynx family was ready to be together in their public exhibit.

Because Lynx are often called “ghost cats”, due to their nearly-noiseless nature (thanks to heavily-padded paws and light frames), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo employees recently voted to name the kittens based on famous Colorado ghost towns. The kittens have been named: Adelaide (Lake County), Norrie (Pitkin County), Frisco (Summit County), and Aspen (as in the famous tree).

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4_Canada lynx in exhibit5Photo Credits: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo 

The Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. It ranges across Canada and into Alaska as well as some parts of the northern United States and extending down the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, where they were reintroduced in the 1990s.

Gestation lasts around 64 days. Young are usually born in May or early June. Before birth, the female prepares a maternal den, usually in very thick brush, and typically inside thickets of shrubs or trees or woody debris.

Litters contain one to four kittens, and tend to be much larger when the food supply is abundant.

Canada Lynx kittens weigh from 175 to 235 g (6.2 to 8.3 oz) at birth, and initially have greyish fur with black markings. They are blind and helpless for the first fourteen days, and weaned at twelve weeks. When their eyes open, they are a bright blue color, but as they mature, the eyes become a brown-hazel color.

Kittens leave the den after about five weeks, and begin hunting between seven and nine months of age. They leave the mother at around ten months, as the next breeding season begins, but do not reach the full adult size until around two years old.

The Canada Lynx is often trapped for its fur, and has also declined in many areas due to habitat loss. However, the IUCN currently classifies them as “Least Concern”.

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