Born on May 1st, the Biodôme's lynx kittens have now integrated their habitat at the Laurentian Maple Forest. Since their birth, the lynx cubs have been vigorous and their mother has given them all the maternal care they need. Their first veterinary examination revealed that they are two females and one male and that they are all in excellent health. Their acclimatization in the habitat will be very gradual and at their own pace. Thus, their presence in the habitat cannot be predicted in advance for the first few weeks.
The female and male lynxes at the Biodôme are respectively 7 and 8 years old, and this is the second time they have reproduced, their first litter being in 2016. The female lynx arrived at the Biodôme in January 2015. After her mother was hit by a car near Chibougamau, the young one was found in poor condition: orphaned, injured, dying of hunger and infested with parasites. Thanks to the veterinarian and animal care provided at the Biodôme, her physical health was restored, and she had her first kittens in 2016.
The male lynx was born at the Biodôme in 2013. His mother and father had been saved from a fur farm in 2006; they arrived with a number of physical (especially nutritional) and behavioural problems. Under the care of the Biodôme team, their health was gradually restored. Against all odds, they even managed to reproduce.
A vital reproduction program
The lynxes at the Biodôme have high genetic merit for zoological institutions. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommends encouraging reproduction to help grow the captive lynx population and boost their genetic diversity. The SSP program aims to maintain the genetic health of the population under human care. Lynxes under human care represent an important form of insurance. In the event that the wild lynx population suffers a major decline, a reintroduction program could be implemented to support it. The expertise developed by zoological institutions with regard to this species is crucial for the success of such a program. The Biodôme has contributed 12 lynx kitten births to the SSP program since 2012.
The species is not endangered in Canada, but there has been a decline in the number of individuals in some ranges, particularly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The main threats are loss of habitat, fur trapping, fluctuations in prey populations and competition from other predators (e.g. coyotes).