Kisa The Lynx Finds Home At Texas A&M’s Wildlife Center
An 11-year-old Eurasian lynx from a conservation breeding facility in Arkansas is the newest exotic animal resident of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Winnie Carter Wildlife Center. Kisa – whose name means “kitty” in Russian – is now considered “middle-aged,” and in her retirement will take on the role of an ambassador species.
“She will be one of our educational animals and she will help teach students about the special routine care and feeding of exotic cats, including preventative veterinary care,” said Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, director of the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center.
The Wildlife Center also cares for a serval and three Asian leopard cats, and the addition of a lynx will increase the variety of learning opportunities for students.
Kisa’s arrival also provided an opportunity for collaboration across colleges. Blue-McLendon knew she would need to build a habitat for Kisa, and reached out to José Fernández Solís, an associate instructional professor of construction science at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, for help designing the perfect space.
“It’s really been fun to work with Dr. Solís because he just loves students and he loves to have projects,” Blue-McLendon said. “His input has been delightful and he has really understood that I wanted to do sustainable construction as best we could. He drew up some plans for us and had all kinds of interesting ideas.”
Solís has done similar work for the Atlanta Zoo.
“No two wildlife projects are the same but all have a common theme — what is the natural habitat of the wildlife that can best be represented in a confined space?” Solís said.
The creation of Kisa’s habitat was made possible thanks to the generosity of many who donated time, money and resources. From concrete to cedar logs, most of the materials for the enclosure were freely given by people who wanted to support the Wildlife Center’s goal to give Kisa the best home possible.
“They’ve already built one structure, a cedar log with another log coming out at an angle and they’re going to hang a PVC toy from it that’s wrapped in rope,” Blue-McLendon said. “I got the idea for this after visiting another wildlife facility recently, and their leopard had one and absolutely loved it.”
Kisa’s finished enclosure is 2,000 square feet full of shelters, climbing objects and several other forms of enrichment.
“One of the best enrichments is that she will have lots of people around all day long,” Blue-McLendon said. “She’s apparently been around humans her entire life and she likes the presence of people. Just providing lots of students to talk to her will be fantastic.”
As Kisa settles into her new home, Blue-McLendon and veterinary students at the Wildlife Center are looking forward to getting to know her and seeing her personality bloom.
“We’re excited. It’s really fun to partner with people and get people excited about things,” Blue-McLendon said. “It’s been fun to interact with lots of different people who understand the mission of providing sanctuary for an animal for the rest of its life and allowing students to get exposure to things that they normally could not on a college campus.”