The Iberian Lynx Captive Breeding Centre (Portuguese acronym: CNRLI) is a breeding facility for the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), the most threatened felid in the world. It is part of a network of breeding facilities in Spain and Portugal that collectively comprise the Iberian Lynx Ex-Situ Program (to know more about this program please go here). The CNRLI is located in Silves, Portugal and it was inaugurated in 2009 upon the reception of its first Iberian lynx specimen, Azahar, a female from the “Zoobotánico de Jerez”.

 

From Oct 2009 to Oct 2010, I was the Assistant Director and Ethologist of CNRLI. Together with an outstanding team of eight people, we set the stage for the 16 lynxes that populated the centre that first year and that represented the first generation of individuals colonizing the Portuguese territory in decades! Receiving such a precious "cargo" in a facility with such unique features (to this day, the only one of its kind in Portugal) meant a lot of hard work, comradery and team spirit. The enclosures were prepared from scratch (lots of physical work), sanitary, husbandry and monitoring protocols had to be adapted to the centre's setting, and a new Environmental Enrichment Program was designed and implemented to ensure lynx welfare and the maintenance of their behavioral repertoire. Specifically, my main responsibilities were to: 

  • Design and implement an Environmental Enrichment Program for the captive lynxes

  • Monitor Lynx welfare (behavioral ecology) 

  • Coordinate the activities of volunteers, keepers and technical staff of the CNRLI

  • Coordinate all administrative and logistical aspects inherent to the centre’s day-to-day management

  • Engage the public in Lynx conservation through public presentations.