Serval Kitten 'Jumps Right In' at Cincinnati Zoo
March 25, 2015
The Cincinnati Zoo’s newest resident is a two month old male Serval kitten! ‘Zeke’ was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo, in Brownsville, Texas.
Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford
The feisty boy is currently in quarantine, at the Zoo’s nursery, to ensure he is healthy before introduction to the other animals. He will remain in nursery, for the remainder of the spring. During this time, staff will also have the opportunity to work hands-on with him and prepare him for future participation in the Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program.
Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program is a unique experience that allows visitors, by special arrangement, to see some of the beautiful cats, up-close and without bars. Not only are guests allowed to witness the cat’s athletic abilities, they are provided an opportunity to learn more about their importance to the world and the challenges they face as a species. Zeke will, eventually, become a member of the Cheetah Encounter Show, which features cats with exciting running and jumping prowess.
The Serval is a medium-sized African wild cat. They have the longest legs of any cat, relative to body size. Most of the increase in length is due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are also elongated, and unusually mobile, helping the animal to capture partially concealed prey. The Serval also possesses an acute sense of hearing, which is attributed to their large ears and auditory bullae in the skull.
In the wilds of Africa, they prefer to inhabit the savanna. They do, on occasion inhabit mountainous areas, but tend to avoid equatorial jungles. They are able to climb and swim, but have no partiality to either.
The Serval is mainly nocturnal, and they generally stick to hunting of smaller prey. Because of their legs, they are record jumpers and are also able to run at speeds of, up to, 50mph /80 km/h. They are also known to be highly intelligent and lovers of mischief.
The Serval is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, but they do face threats, in the wild, from larger cats. They are also hunted for their pelts.