Here at Wildwood Zoo, we have one lynx named Lexi, who shares her exhibit with Bets, our bobcat. Lexi is a female lynx who arrived in March of 2010 from a zoo Minnesota. She was born on May 14th of 2005. Lexi's name was chosen for her by school children attending a spring education program that April. Lexi has diabetes and takes daily medication. She is very independant and loves taking naps in the sun.
Canada lynx have a unique appearance among felids, including a flared facial ruff, black ear tufts, and long hind legs-which lend a slightly stooped posture. The tail is short and black-tipped. Their fur is reddish-brown to gray; the hairs are tipped with white which give it a frosted appearance. The Canada lynx's large, spreading feet act like snowshoes and support twice the weight on snow as bobcat paws. Adult males average 22-31 pounds; female average 18-24 pounds. Lynx show remarkable similarity of appearance compared to other related groups of cats and the Canada lynx is often treated as the same species as the Eurasian lynx. The Canada lynx, however, is only half the size of the Eurasian lynx and exhibits very different prey selection, supporting separate species status. While the Canada lynx is probably a descendent of the Eurasian lynx ancestor which migrated into North America during one of the last two major glacial periods, the much larger Eurasian lynx preys mainly on ungulates, while the Canada lynx relies almost exclusively on snowshoe hares and is uniquely adapted, both behaviorally and physiologically, to utilize this prey base.
Lynx are distributed throughout the broad boreal, sub-boreal and western montane forests of North America and range into the American Rocky Mountains and Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, northern Minnesota and northern New England. Lynx maintain territories which may overlap, but they are solitary animals and avoid contact. They seek company only in order to mate. In the Upper Great Lakes region, male lynx's territories range in size from 56-94 square miles and females' from 20-54 square miles. Thus, there can be several females within a male's territory and he may mate with more than one.
Lynx are linked to the snowshoe hare as its primary food source and, as such, are commonly found at higher densities in riparian areas and areas of new-growth coniferous forest, such as after forest fires. Such areas attract snowshoe hares and thus lynx may concentrate in these areas. Canada lynx have been shown to use mature forest stands and will inhabit farming country, but only if it is interrupted by sufficient areas of woodland that contain hare populations.
Lynx are able to breed at one year old if there is a plentiful supply of hares but often they do not breed until their second year. Once they have mated in late January or February, the male and female go their separate ways. The male takes no part in rearing young. About 60-65 days after mating, the female gives birth to 1-4 kits in a den she has selected in a hollow tree, log or brush pile. The kits are blind until 8-10 days old. Their fur is spotted, but the spots disappear when they shed their natal coat later in the spring. The female travels with her young until mid- winter, then drives them away as the next denning season approaches.
In the wild: 10-15 years
In human care: up to 26 years
Canada lynx feed almost exclusively on snowshoe hares, a cyclic prey species that has a profound impact on lynx populations. Recruitment of lynx populations is near zero and adult mortality is much higher at the bottom of hare cycles.