Hello, My Name Is Xena!
This article was originally published in the winter 2018 Wild Times Newsletter
Photo Credit: Janice Ryan
What better way to get to know the inner world of an animal than to ask one of their caregivers. In the case of our gorgeous Canada Lynx, Xena, zookeeper Mia knows her very well. She cleans her habitat, feeds her, and provides enrichment opportunities every day to keep the six-year-old active and stimulated. Mia also helps train Xena so keepers can assess her health without catching or restraining her.
Here’s a few of the tidbits Xena would like to share with our visitors:
FAVOURITE FOOD? I love, love rabbits. Sure, guinea pigs and chicken are ok, I mean, I’m not going to turn them down, but rabbits are my fave! I like to toss my whole food in the air before I dine and bat it around a bit. Works up my appetite. *Note: the Edmonton Valley Zoo does not feed its animals live prey.
FAVOURITE ENRICHMENT? Well, there’s this mirror that hangs in my habitat. I just love to mark it with urine, make sure everybody knows it’s mine. I also like to claw my soccer ball. Sometimes the keepers give me straw covered with another animal’s scent. I get giddy and roll around in it. The best fun is when my habitat gets rearranged. I simply must investigate immediately.
PERSONALITY TRAITS? I’ve overheard Mia telling the others that I am a DIVA! She says I have more cat-itude than any other other cat here. Excellent! Apparently though, my aloof nature makes training a wee bit challenging. I admit, I like to keep Mia on her toes, but it’s that much sweeter when I do what she asks. Watching her rejoice is delightful!
TRAINING ACHIEVEMENTS? Mia is such a doll, she says I am very smart. My training behaviours are for husbandry. For example, when I stand on my hind legs Mia scans my underside; hold up a paw, she checks my pads. When the spirit moves me I open my mouth so she can check my teeth and gums. I even hop on the scale to be weighed. I am a svelte 12.5kg (27.5lbs), absolutely purr-fect for my height and fine bone structure.
SPECIAL SKILLS? I don’t want to brag or anything, but my eyesight and hearing are phenomenal. I can spot a mouse 75m (82yd) away! I can jump high, too…..really high. I ricochet off the walls, landing with poise and grace on the wooden platforms. Easy-peasy.
FAVOURITE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES? I just adore my black, tufted ears. And, I have the cutest, little bobbed tail. Watch closely when I hunt for food my trickster keepers hide. See how my sassy tail twitches. Adorable, yes?
CLAIM TO FAME: The Oilers sponsor my habitat through the Valley Zoo Development Society’s Adopt an Exhibit program. Seeing as Hunter, the lynx, is the Oilers mascot, I think that makes me his girlfriend.
LOVE LIFE: Sweet Mia shared this exciting tidbit with me – I am getting a male companion by the name of Sherman. Sigh. He’s coming all the way from Washington to hang out with moi.