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Farewell to Franklin's Best-Loved Wildcat

Farewell to Franklin's Best-Loved Wildcat

Sam the
Click to enlarge

Sam's long ears are highly tuned to the sound of small rodents scurrying about in the grass. He often listens for prey with his eyes shut, giving the impression he's sleeping!
Sam the
Click to enlarge

Sam was much loved by the thousands of children and adults who watched his hunting demonstrations and he'll be sorely missed.
Sam the
Click to enlarge

Sam the serval's hunting skills were top notch. He was capable of leaping 3m high to capture his food.

News Release
For Immediate Release
14 March, 2008
Photograph available

Farewell to Franklin's Best-Loved Wildcat

Franklin Zoo farewelled one of its most famous residents this week when Sam the Serval died at the age of 20 years. Zoo director Helen Schofield says Sam's passing is a real loss to the zoo.

"He was a fantastic ambassador for his species and for conservation as a whole," she says.

"Servals are listed in CITES Appendix 2, indicating that it is "not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled'."

Serval numbers in the wild were threatened as they were once hunted to service the fur trade but as people have become more educated about the impact fashion furs had on animal species, the numbers have started to recover.

"We're not out of the woods yet," says Schofield. "But with the educational focus of zoos influencing the way people think about conservation and the changing buyer behaviour of consumers, we are making inroads."

Thousands of children and adults have enjoyed watching Sam demonstrate his amazing hunting skills during Franklin Zoo's daily Wild Encounters.

"Servals are so well adapted for their environment. They have long legs, the longest of all cats, relative to body size so they can see over the top of the long grass on the African savanna, and huge ears so they can hear rodents and small animals rustling around in the grass, pinpoint them and pounce with a distinctive vertical 'hop' after listening to them with their eyes shut... ."

Schofield says she'd jokingly respond to visitors remarks about Sam snoozing away his morning by pointing out he was actually hunting.

Sam's jumping and hunting demonstrations will be sorely missed by zoo staff and visitors.

"Over the past two years he's been on a special diet and taking green lipped muscle extract so he was in great shape for his age. He had no trouble leaping up into the trees in his enclosure to 'catch' a chicken or piece of meat to show off his hunting prowess."

Unfortunately age got the better of Sam, but Schofield says he's left behind a legacy of youngsters and their parents who now have a much better understanding of conservation.

"He's had a good eight more years than he would have in the wild. We all loved him and we'll miss him hugely."


About Franklin Zoo:
Franklin Zoo is home to more than 100 wild animals and birds, including five lions, a multitude of monkeys, and a zebra. It is situated in the Bombay Hills, 5km from the turnoff along Ridge Road. It runs a successful Junior Zoo Keeper programme each holidays and also has an education programme in line with school curriculums well utilised by schools.
Visit www.franklinzoo.co.nz

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