Wildwood Zoo

Meet the Bobcat & Canada Lynx at Wildwood Zoo

 Canada Lynx

We currently have one bobcat and one lynx here at Wildwood Zoo.  They share an exhibit in what is now called the "Wildcat Exhibit".

Lexi is a female lynx who arrived in March of 2010 from Minnesota.  She was born on May 14th of 2005.  Lexi's name was chosen for her by school children attending a spring education program that April.  Lexi likes to chase around toys and smell perfume. She is very independant and enjoys taking naps in the sun.  

Canada lynx have a unique appearance among felids, especially Nearctic ones, including a flared facial ruff, black ear tufts, and long hind legs which lend a slightly stooped posture. The tail is short and black-tipped. Pelage is reddish-brown to gray; the hairs are tipped with white which give it a frosted appearance. The Canada lynx's large, spreading feet act like snowshoes and support twice the weight on snow as bobcat paws.  Adult males average 22-31 pounds; female average 18-24 pounds.  Lynx show remarkable similarity of appearance compared to other related groups of cats and the Canada lynx is often treated as conspecific with the Eurasian lynx. The Canada lynx, however, is only half the size of the Eurasian lynx and exhibits marked adaptive differences in prey selection, supporting mitochondrial analysis which tends to support separate species status. While the Canada lynx is probably a descendent of the Eurasian lynx ancestor which migrated into North America during one of the last two major glacial periods, the much larger Eurasian lynx preys mainly on ungulates while the Canada lynx relies almost exclusively on snowshoe hares and is uniquely adapted, both behaviorally and physiologically, to exploit this cyclic prey base.

Lynx are distributed throughout the broad boreal, sub-boreal and western montane forests of North America and range into the American Rocky Mountains and Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, northern Minnesota and northern New England.  Lynx maintain territories which may overlap, but they are solitary animals and avoid contact. They seek company only in order to mate. In the Upper Great Lakes region, male lynx's territories range in size from 56-94 square miles and females' from 20-54 square miles. Thus, there can be several females within a male's territory and he may mate with more than one.

Lynx are inexorably linked to the snowshoe hare as its primary food source and as such, are commonly found at higher densities in riparian areas and areas of new-growth coniferous forest, such as after forest fires. Such areas attract snowshoe hares and thus lynx may concentrate in these areas. Canada lynx have been shown to use mature forest stands and will inhabit farming country, but only if it is interrupted by sufficient areas of woodland that contain hare populations.

Lynx are able to breed at one year old and if there is a good supply of hares. Often they do not breed until their second year.  Once they have mated in late January or February, the male and female go their separate ways. The male takes no part in rearing young. About 60-65 days after mating, the female gives birth to 1-4 kits in a den she has selected in a hollow tree, log or brush pile. The kits are blind until 8-10 days old. Their fur is spotted, but the spots disappear when they shed their natal coat later in the spring. The female travels with her young until mid- winter, then drives them away as the next denning season approaches.

Life Expectancy
In the wild: 10-15 years
In human care: up to 26 years

Natural Diet
Canada lynx feed almost exclusively on snowshoe hares, a cyclic prey species that has a profound impact on lynx populations. Recruitment of lynx populations is near zero and adult mortality is much higher at the bottom of hare cycles.


Bets is a male bobcat that was transferred to Wildwood Zoo from Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo, WI on October 27, 2016.  He was born on July 2nd in 2007. Bets is a confident, outgoing cat who enjoys interacting with visitors and his keepers! Having both a bobcat and lynx in a mulit-species exhibit is a great opportunity for our patrons to see a side by side comparison of these two closely related species.

Bobcats, sometimes referred to as wildcats, are medium-sized cats that are typically about twice the size of a house cat. The bobcat has an orange-tan pelt with black stripes on the face and spots on the body. The top of the tail is black with a white underside. They have a white chest and belly, but the belly is heavily spotted. These spots and the color of their coat helps camouflage the bobcat in the thick underbrush. Bobcats are most active at night and are extremely elusive. Bobcats and lynx are both part of the Lynx family; differences between the two species can be subtle, so people often mistake them in the wild. Here in Wisconsin, we are relatively close to an overlap in lynx and bobcat ranges. Sighting either is possible, but a lynx sighting in Wisconsin is very rare. In fact, the last positively confirmed lynx in Wisconsin was in 1992. Scientists don’t believe there was ever a breeding population of Lynx in the state. Individuals that are sighted are likely traveling south from their usual habitat in search of food.

They are the most abundant wild cat species in North America and have the largest geographic distribution. Though bobcats are relatively common predators (estimated population in the United States is about 2.3 to 3.6 million animals and about 2,850 in Wisconsin) they are rarely seen.

Thick forested areas of northern Wisconsin are home to the bobcat. They like alder thickets and coniferous swamps with black spruce, white cedar, or balsam fir trees especially. In the southern part of the bobcat's range, they prefer upland areas when conifer swamps aren't found.

They have their first litter of 2-3 kittens when they are 2 years old. Kittens are born between April and July in dens found in caves, rock crevices, or hollow logs or trees.

Life Expectancy
In the wild: 16 years
In human care: 25 years

Natural Diet
The snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit are the major prey of Wisconsin bobcats. These cats will look for sick, injured, very young or old white-tailed deer if a rabbit meal isn't easily available. They also like larger mammals for a meal like the porcupine, squirrel, and wood chuck. They'll chase and eat smaller animals such as mice, voles, shrews, reptiles, birds and even insects. Most of all, the bobcat specializes in taking larger, rabbit-sized prey.

Canada Lynx Range in North America 
map lynx
For more information, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.



Bobcat Range in North America
 Image result for Lynx Range in North America

For more information, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 

More Information
Meet the Kodiak Bears

Meet the Mountain Lions
Meet the Bobcat & Canada Lynx
Meet the Timber Wolves
Meet the White-tailed Deer
Meet the American Bison
Meet the American Elk
Meet the Bald Eagle
Meet the Great Horned Owl
Meet the Red-tailed Hawk
Meet the Rough-legged Hawk
Meet the Peregrine Falcon
Meet the Ornate Box Turtles
Meet the Black-tailed Prairie Dogs
Meet the Fox
Meet the Sandhill Cranes
Meet the Screech Owl
Meet the Non-Resident Animals