Hi, I’m Dave Bernier, general curator of the Animal Care department. I have worked at Lincoln Park Zoo for more than twenty years and my son and daughter have been coming to the zoo since before they could walk. Like me, they love the big cats and can differentiate lions, tigers and leopards by vocalizations alone.
I like them to experience something new each time they come, which was easy during a Presidents Day visit, since we had just added northern lynx to the collection at the Kovler Lion House.
Tawny brown with black spots, long legs, short tails and ear tufts, lynx have a distinctive look. My kids enjoyed watching the sisters gracefully move through their habitat. “How do you tell them apart?” they asked. I admitted I couldn’t just yet, which prompted a little teasing.
The keepers could have clued me in, since they’ve been getting familiar with these cats for weeks, but I like a challenge and enjoy spending time watching animals. I explained to my kids that if you spend enough time observing cats you begin to notice slight differences in their appearances and personalities.
And now we have something to look forward to during future family visits—getting to know the lynx. In the meantime, my kids will probably get a few hints out of me, since I can’t stop talking about the zoo when I get home from work each night.