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New York State Zoo at Thompson Park publicly displays Canada lynx kittens for first time

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Patrons of the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park got their first look Friday at a set of four Canada lynx kittens born in early May.

The three male and one female kittens, born about six weeks ago, could be seen scampering around a small enclosure inside of the lynx exhibit area. Their mother, Chayne, 5, kept vigil at the enclosure’s opening, effectively preventing the kittens from doing anything more than briefly poking their heads out.

Children from several local schools and their chaperones could be seen at the edge of the exhibit, positioning themselves to see the lynxes.

“This is our experiment today,” said Sue M. Sabik, the zoo’s general curator.

Ms. Sabik complimented Chayne’s work as a first-time mother and said all of the kittens were healthy.

“She’s done everything by the book,” Ms. Sabik said.

Though she said the kittens were “a little wobbly,” the four are now starting to do things such as climb.

“Velcro claws,” she said.

The kittens, weighing 2 to 3 pounds each, do not have names yet. The kittens’ father, Abraham, 2, lounged on one end of the lynx exhibit area. He will be kept from the kittens for a brief period until they are more grown.

The two parent lynxes were introduced in May 2012. Abraham, born in May 2011 at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg, Manitoba, was made available to the zoo through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Canada lynx breeding program.

“We’re really happy that within a year they’re already breeding,” zoo Executive Director John T. Wright said.

Mr. Wright and Ms. Sabik said the zoo was the third in the country to have a lynx litter this year, following zoos in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mr. Wright said the kittens will be raised at the zoo by their parents until they are old enough to be sent to other zoos for breeding and display. He projected the kittens would be at the zoo until the fall.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the Canada lynx as an endangered species in several states, including New York. The service shows on its website that the cat’s population is spread through areas with boreal forest conditions.

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