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home : news : news May 27, 2016

9/25/2012 2:27:00 PM
Oxbow Park to open wildcat exhibit
Celeste Lewis, staff naturalist at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, stands in front of a sign advertising the upcoming wildcat exhibit to open later this fall. Photo by David Richards
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Celeste Lewis, staff naturalist at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, stands in front of a sign advertising the upcoming wildcat exhibit to open later this fall. Photo by David Richards

By David Richards

 They're members of the cat family, but they aren't small, won't curl up on your lap and if they're in the mood to play and not secured in a cage, be somewhere else.

The lynx, the cougar and the bobcat are, of course, wildcats, and the ones featured at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo in Byron will soon be housed in one central location.

Olmsted County Park crews are in the process of building a wildcat exhibit at the zoo, which will feature three separate pens that will all be linked together.

Right now, all three animals are fairly far apart from each other on the property.

"We hope to keep like animals with like animals," said Celeste Lewis, staff naturalist. "Education and maintenance wise, it helps."

The exhibit will be located behind the current cougar pen, which will then be torn down so it's not blocking the new structure.

"This is by far the biggest exhibit we've done here," said Pat Gerken, construction crew leader for the Olmsted County Parks Department.

The exhibit will feature waterfalls and ponds, with an outer pen made mostly of steel mesh, steel pipe and angle iron.

The new home will give the cats more space, especially the cougar, whose pen will be five times the size of its current one.

The cost of the exhibit is just less than $100,000 and has been paid for 100 percent by donations. The sponsor of the exhibit is the Friends of Oxbow, the park's non-profit organization.

Gerken said he expects the project to be finished in late October or early November.

As far as all the water goes, will the three wildcats like it?

"They're cats, so they might not like it," Gerken said. "They're not going to swim in it like the bear, but the ponds will have fish if they want to swat at them and eat them."

Read the rest of the story in they Byron Review.


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