Breeding first for Iberian lynxes born in captivity

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The Independent Online

Three Iberian lynxes have been born at a Spanish nature reserve, the first time the species has successfully bred in captivity. The births mark what scientists call a "historic turning point" in efforts to save the endangered species from extinction.

Three Iberian lynxes have been born at a Spanish nature reserve, the first time the species has successfully bred in captivity. The births mark what scientists call a "historic turning point" in efforts to save the endangered species from extinction.

The birth appears to vindicate an ambitious programme of captive breeding launched in Spain's Coto Doñana nature reserve two years ago. Only 150 Iberian lynxes remain in the wild, in two colonies in Andalusia and Portugal.

Numbers of the cat, noted for its long, tufted ears, have fallen in recent years because disease has killed the rabbits on which they prey and because many are run over by motorists.

The three lynx kittens were born in a 2,200 square metre enclosure where their parents have lived since 2003. Scientists filmed the birth and monitor the litter round the clock, but have not approached close enough to establish the kittens' sex.

The mother, Sielaga, was enthusiastically feeding and licking her kittens, scientists said. "It is a scientific and ecological success," Fuensanta Coves, Andalusia's regional environment minister, said.

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