Last week we reported on Flaviu, the lynx that escaped from the Dartmoor Zoo just hours after his arrival earlier this month, is still on the run.
Benjamin Mee, the Zoo’s owner, believes Flaviu will not venture far as there is plenty of easily accessible food in the form of rabbits and birds.
In an article by Samantha Hurn, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Programme Director for MA and PhD Anthrozoology, University of Exeter, published in The Conversation suggests that perhaps Flaviu could be headed back to his home in Kent.
Prior to arriving at Dartmoor Zoo, Flaviu lived with his mother, Klementyna, at the Port Lympne Reserve in Canterbury, Kent. He has been branded a “mummy’s boy” because of the close relationship he had with Klementyna. Consequently, Dartmoor Zoo is planning to use bedding from his mother’s enclosure and a recording of her call to try and lure him back. Mee himself has acknowledged that Flaviu’s attachment to his mother may have been his motivation for wanting to escape, stating “we think he is really missing his mum. That is why he could have escaped, because he was trying to get back to her.
Port Lympne is just over 275 miles from Dartmoor Zoo. Given the documented distances covered by wild lynx, Flaviu could feasibly turn up at his mother’s home some time in late August. The most recent sighting of Flaviu was on July 15th, 12 miles north of Dartmoor Zoo. If he is heading home his progress is slow, but this is perhaps unsurprising for a young animal experiencing freedom for the first time.
A petition is calling for Dartmoor Zoo to return Flaviu to Port Lympne (if and when he is recaptured) so that he can be reunited with his mother. Certainly if Flaviu makes his own way back to Port Lympne then this argument would be strengthened considerably.
If Flaviu is not caught then his story might also become an interesting case study which could inform discussions surrounding the rewilding of lynx in the UK. If he remains at large, stays out of sight and doesn’t eat too many sheep or domestic pets, then UK residents might be more inclined to feel positive about coexisting with these creatures who were once native to the UK but were wiped out by human activity more than 1,300 years ago.