The Yukon Wildlife Preserve welcomed three new lynx kittens in June. The three baby lynx were born around Father’s Day but have recently left the den and begun to explore their enclosure making them easier to spot for visitors.
“That first three weeks they’re pretty helpless,” said Jake Paleczny, Yukon Wildlife Preserve executive director. “They aren’t running around.
“There is a huge difference between something like an ungulate like caribou or bison who in half-an-hour they’re standing and getting dried off. Later that day, they’re walking a kilometre and it’s fine.”
For the first couple weeks of a lynx-kitten’s life, they are blind, and so completely reliant on the mother who will care for them for up to 11 months.
The kittens are up and moving; Paleczny said they are still being nursed by mother-lynx.
All of the kittens were born healthy, but one of the kittens sustained an injury and is currently in rehab.
“The lynx fell,” said Paleczny. “This is one of those kind of freak accidents. It ending up slipping or falling, we aren’t sure how it got there, but they ended up pinned between some willows.”
Pressure from one of the willows did damage to the lynx’s femoral nerve (in the thigh), said Paleczny.
“It’s potentially done some additional damage so it’s going to be a fairly long recovery,” said Paleczny. “I understand nerve tissues don’t regenerate.”
Wildlife Preserve vet Dr. Maria Hallock, Paleczny said, has reported that the lynx has started to be able to move its hip.
“They’re using some kinesiology tape to help kind of position it and doing laser therapy to help reduce the swelling and promote healing,” said Paleczny.
The lynx was discovered pinned in the willows by a guest at the preserve. Paleczny said they rely on guests to report what’s happening in the habitat and are thankful to the person who told them about the lynx.
“The public has more eyes on the habitat than we can get,” said Paleczny.
It’s been a while since the Yukon Wildlife Preserve has had baby lynx.
“The only reason it has been a while is because we have chosen not to breed them,” said Paleczny. “We’ve been separating the males and females, but it was essentially time.
“With our collection plan that we have, we’re trying to manage our animal populations to ensure a good diversity of genetics, genders and ages. So this is part of that plan. We are hoping for a male to eventually take over from the male we have.”
The injured kitten who is currently rehabbing, is male, but the gender of the other two is not yet known.
Because of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s available habitat, not all the baby lynx will remain at the facility.
“It’s a great opportunity to breed when we also know another facility has a need,” said Paleczny. “We’ve had three lynx in this habitat and that’s worked really well and for a while it’s going to be okay (with the babies).
“But you know, six is right up there and we’d need another habitat to manage that effectively and give them the space.”
Paleczny said cats are laid back and don’t need as much space as other animals, but the Yukon Wildlife Preserve values giving every animal a “really rich, diverse environment.”
When any baby animal is born, Paleczny said is an exciting time at the wildlife preserve.
“It’s really special to work with animals like this,” said Paleczny. “Lynx are such neat, mysterious animals. People have been reporting seeing the babies out and about and reporting back their sightings so that’s pretty exciting.”
What is especially exciting for Paleczny and the Wildlife Preserve Staff is that the breeding program is working.
“It’s always good when a plan comes together,” said Paleczny. “There’s definitely satisfaction there and thinking bigger picture, this is working. These are healthy animals, we’re seeing that with three kittens being born.
“When you see these things happening it’s satisfying and super cool to see.”
The lynx weren’t the only new arrivals at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. In April, a baby bison was welcomed to the herd and now there are four bison calves.
If you want to try and catch a glimpse of the lynx kittens, the wildlife preserve is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Sunday.
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com