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ENVIRONMENT

Two Iberian lynxes move into Madrid Zoo

Royals and government officials attend the inauguration of new facilities for this endangered Spanish feline

Jazmín, the female lynx now living at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium. Ampliar foto
Jazmín, the female lynx now living at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium.

Two Iberian lynxes are the new residents of Madrid’s Zoo Aquarium, which inaugurated special facilities for the endangered species on Wednesday.

King Felipe VI’s mother, Sofia, who still holds the honorary title of queen, attended the event along with state and regional officials.

The male, Kalama, and the female, Jazmín, are the only Iberian lynxes to live in the Madrid region. Most of the others are in southern Spain, particularly in Doñana National Park, where there is a breeding program in place to save the species.

The breeding program has raised the number of specimens in two Andalusian locations from 100 in 2002 to 361 in 2015

The three and four-year-old animals were transferred to their new 600 m2 residence from a breeding center in Zarza de Granadilla (Cáceres).

Jesús Fernández, director of the zoological division of Parques Reunidos, the parent company of Madrid’s Zoo Aquarium, explained that “because they are not fit for reproduction purposes, the lynxes will fulfill another one of the program’s goals, which is raising social awareness about the dangers threatening this species.”

With this initiative, the Zoo Aquarium and the Parques Reunidos Foundation are joining the Life Iberlince conservation program, which is run jointly by the Environment Ministry and the regional government of Andalusia. This program has managed to reduce the Iberian lynx’s status from “critically endangered” to “endangered.”

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The Andalusian environment chief, José Fiscal, said that the breeding program has raised the number of specimens in two Andalusian locations from 100 in 2002 to 361 in 2015. In the whole of the Iberian peninsula there are 404 animals after some of them expanded into Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and the neighboring Portugal.

Agriculture Minister Isabel García Tejerina underscored that “lynx conservation is one of the prime examples in the history of nature protection in Spain.”

She added that the coordinated work of all agencies involved in the project has yielded excellent results throughout these last 15 years.

Agustín López Goya, biology director for Parques Reunidos, explained that the main threats to the Iberian lynx are vehicle strikes on roads and a decline in wild rabbit populations through disease.

“Lynxes feed on rabbits, and if these are ill the lynx is usually affected as well, and its own population declines notably,” added this expert.

English version by Susana Urra.

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