April 11, 2010
Two furry Iberian lynx kittens were born on Easter Sunday in Portugal, raising hopes of a resurrection of the species in the country, where it has been extinct for about a decade.
The Iberian lynx is one of the world’s most endangered cats. They measure about one metre in length, have distinctive leopard-like spots and four sets of whiskers, two on the ears and two on the chin.
“This is the first time Iberian lynx are born in captivity here. It’s a happy coincidence that the two animals were born on Easter,” Environment Minister Dulce Alvaro Passaro said.
“It’s very important because the species had ceased to exist in Portugal years ago. It is another step toward the planned reintroduction of the Iberian lynx in their natural habitat.”
The lynx were born in the National Centre for Iberian Lynx Reproduction in southern Portugal, which only opened last May, from a couple brought from Spain, where the lynx still roam in the wild and are also bred in three reproduction centres.
The mother, five-year-old Azahar, had previously failed to conceive and scientists from the centre were relieved with the healthy pregnancy and delivery.
“The two creatures are strong and quite active. The female Azahar shows all the adequate maternal instincts, being around the kittens permanently and giving them all the maternal care with dedication and calm,” the ministry, which oversees the project, said in a note.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org