Binder Park Zoo welcomes Casey and Carla, two Canada lynx

Casey and Carla are the newest additions to Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek. The Canada lynx recently arrived and are now on display in the east portion of the zoo, just beyond the American black bear exhibit.

The pair of cats are one year old, born on May 19, 2014.

The Canada lynx, found in small populations in Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont,Washington, and Colorado, is threatened in the wild.

During the 1970s and '80s they were trapped for their fur, when prices rose to $600 a pelt. Few of the cats remain in the United States. Their populations are being sustained, however, throughout Canada and Alaska.

In the wild, the lynx help keep the snowshoe hare population in balance. When there are too few lynx, there is an explosion in the hare population, which zoo officials say leads in turn to a rise in the number of lynx. When  hare populations decline the lynx are forced to eat other rodents like mice and squirrel -- a less nutritious food source; often resulting in starvation. This ongoing pattern occurs in 12- to 14-year cycles.

The addition of the lynx brings the number of big cats at the Binder Park Zoo to six. The zoo is home to a snow leopard and several cheetahs. It also is raising $500,000 to fund a lion exhibit.

The two Canada lynx were acquired as part of a Species Survival Plan administered through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Binder Park Zoo had space for the lynx when a white handed gibbon became elderly and passed away.

Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek, on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. It draws at least 60,000 people annually, and offers 30 different types of formal education programs.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Kari Parker, Binder Park Zoo 
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