Serval cats replacing retiring leopard in Brownsville
(which begs the question: Where did the leopard go?)
BROWNSVILLE, Texas A pair of 1-year-old Serval cats stepped out in public for the first time at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville today.
The cats, among eight captive-born Servals brought to the United States from South Africa several months ago, are taking the place of a leopard the zoo recently retired. The other six were sent to other zoos across the country.
The cats are indigenous to Morocco, Algeria and much of sub-Saharan Africa and are about the size of bobcats.
Serval cats added to zoo exhibit
BY ANA MCKENZIE
The Brownsville Herald
June 14, 2006 — Gladys Porter Zoo welcomed two new members to its animal family recently.
After being in quarantine for a month, a pair of 1-year-old Serval cats, which come by way of South Africa, was introduced to the public Tuesday.
A month ago, the zoo purchased male and female African Serval cats to replace a leopard, which was recently retired.
“The leopard will be retired from exhibit because of his age, and we thought the Serval cats would be an excellent replacement,” said Charlie Abrego, the zoo’s public relations coordinator. “They’re more animated.”
The cats will also add diversity to the current cat display, which includes lions and tigers.
The shipment of eight captive-born Servals came into the United States from South Africa several months ago. The other six cats were distributed to zoos throughout the country.
“They were brought into the United States to upgrade the genetic diversity in the captive born population,” said Jerry Stones, the zoo’s general curator.
The Serval cats are indigenous to Morocco, Algeria and much of sub-Saharan Africa.
“They roam a wide range,” Stones said.
Their long legs serve them well in tall grass, and their large ears make them especially sensitive to the sounds of their pray which include birds, lizards, rats and mice.
“They pounce on their pray with all four legs,” Stones said. “Well, at least they try to.”
Serval cats are solitary and hunt during the daytime, unlike larger cats that hunt at night.
“They range from about 20 to 26 pounds,” Stones said. “They get to be about the size of bobcats.”
Stones and his colleagues hope the cats will eventually mate.
“The babies will probably go to other zoos to start new breeding pairs or replace lost females or males,” Stones said.
Once the female becomes pregnant, she will be removed from display.
“If she gives birth around the male, he will not tolerate the babies and probably kill them,” Stones said.
For now, the unnamed cats are adjusting well to their new home.
“They were born in a facility, so they’re used to it,” Stones said.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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