Four new female felines welcomed to Washington Park Zoo

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- The Washington Park Zoo announced on Monday (Dec. 18) the addition of four new furry felines from two separate Zoological Association of America accredited facilities.

Recently, the zoo in Michigan City welcomed two 12-week-old bobcat sisters as well as two African Leopard sisters. All four of female cats are adjusting nicely to their new surroundings, according to the zoo. 

"Typically, leopards are spotted, however, the girls were born melanistic, so they appear to be almost completely black," zoo officials said. "Melanism is an overdevelopment of dark pigment and is a recessive genetic trait like red hair or blue eyes in humans. If you look closely in the daylight, you can see the spotted pattern on their black coats."

Zoo officials say they are keeping the creatures on a healthy schedule, even if the cats are unaware of the routines. In fact, that seems to be the point. 

"Animals in the wild simply don’t adhere to the predictable schedules that humans love. Natural variety is the inspiration for more contemporary habitats, allowing animals to rotate in and out of various habitat spaces at unpredictable times," zoo officials said. "This rotation provides variety and fresh and enriching experiences for these highly anticipatory and smart creatures. Animals can pick up on routines very quickly and can start anticipating events like feeding times, so we like to change routines. Non-scheduling more closely mimics what they experience in the wild which helps keep them active and curious."

When they are not playing in the public exhibit, the cats hang in the feline house that has seven large bedrooms that serve as extensions of their den space. 

"While most animals like to spend time outdoors, they sometimes prefer to be inside enjoying activities, watching us perform our daily care duties, or having quiet time," said zoo officials. "The animals get the same high-quality enrichment activities to engage them in their indoor spaces as they do when they are on public exhibit."

The Washington Park Zoo, with all its new additions, will reopen for the 2024 season on April 1. 

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