Russian zoo lynxes, cougars mate early in warm winter

RUSSIA: January 25, 2007

MOSCOW – Animals at a Russian zoo have started mating early this year because of steamy temperatures in the warmest Russian winter for a generation, zoo officials said on Wednesday.

Temperatures have recently fallen to more arctic norms, but the unusual heat allowed pumas and camels to shrug off the winter blues and start frolicking early.

“Some animals have started their mating season early this year because of the warm winter,” Maxim Kozlov, the curator at Ivanovo Zoo, northeast of Moscow, told Reuters by telephone.

Russia’s spectacular winters came to an end this year in European Russia with little snow and temperatures so warm that animals — and many Russians — were left wondering what to do.

“We are awaiting offspring from the lynxes and camels. Pumas can breed all year but usually in winter they slow down — this year because of the warm weather we will see Puma ‘kittens’ two months early,” Kozlov said.

European parts of Russia have seen the warmest winter since records began in 1879 though temperatures have recently fallen to minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Moscow.

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