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Jun 16, 2014

Now Pouncing at a Zoo Near You: Serval Kitten Sisters

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed the arrival of two African serval kittens who will serve as outreach animal ambassadors for their species. The 10-week-old felines were born in March in Boise, Idaho, and relocated to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in June aboard Southwest Airlines, snuggled inside a crate resting on a passenger seat between two (human) handlers in the main cabin.

Purr-fectly Precious Kittens Will Be Outreach Animal Ambassadors

TAMPA, Fla. (June 16, 2014) — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed the arrival of two African serval kittens who will serve as outreach animal ambassadors for their species. The 10-week-old felines were born in March in Boise, Idaho, and relocated to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in June aboard Southwest Airlines, snuggled inside a crate resting on a passenger seat between two (human) handlers in the main cabin.

The charismatic kittens weighed only about a half pound each at birth and were hand-raised together by zookeepers. At eight weeks, they made the 2,000 mile journey to Tampa where they continue to receive around-the-clock care from the Zoo’s animal outreach educators. The frisky felines are currently weaning from the bottle to a meat-based diet, and have grown increasingly more active and playful.

As outreach educational animals, the servals will not be on exhibit within the Zoo, however, trainers will be working with the animals at noon daily in a temporary habitat to allow guests to see these captivating cats up close while learning more about them. Zoo trainers will use operant conditioning and positive reinforcement training to encourage the cats to walk on a lead and demonstrate natural behaviors like leaping high in the air, pouncing, chasing and carrying objects.

In the wild, servals are found in dense forests and savannas along waterways through sub-Saharan Africa. Although they are small in size, they are tall and slender with a tawny coat and black spots. Servals rely on their unusually large ears -- the largest of any cat species -- to detect prey in tall grasses and to listen for predators.

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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