African Serval Kittens Debut in New Presentation This Summer at Naples Zoo

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Making their debut this summer in Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, these brother and sister servals are at the cuddly age of just two months old. They can be seen daily in the new Animal Training Session presentations in Naples Zoo’s Safari Canyon theater

Serval kittens Baku and Cleo with Janna Dewey and Julie Bragovich in the Safari Canyon theater at Naples Zoo.

At this age, Baku and Cleo are coming out to explore and play in the Canyon theater.

As adults, Africa’s serval cats are one of the world’s most successful hunters. But as kittens, these future spotted killers are one of the cutest creatures you’ve ever seen. Making their debut this summer in Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, these brother and sister servals are at the cuddly age of just two months old. You can see them now in the new Animal Training Session presentations held daily in the Zoo’s Safari Canyon theater at 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Members of the Species Survival Plan® coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Baku and Cleo were born at The Idaho Falls Zoo in Tautphaus Park. Naples Zoo’s Director of Animal Programs Liz Harmon recently accompanied them to Naples. Since arriving, the two kittens have had 24/7 care from Harmon and a team of professional keepers. They made public debut in a new program premiering this summer at the Zoo where guests can see how keepers enrich animals’ lives through training.

“At this age, Baku and Cleo are coming out to explore and play in the Canyon theater,” explains Harmon. “And that’s part of their training – to have fun being out where guests can appreciate these beautiful cats.” Over time, the cats will be able to show guests some of their amazing natural abilities like jumping up to catch birds in mid-air (simulated by a toy with feathers) or snagging a rodent out of a burrow (simulated with a clear tube and a stuffed animal).

Capable Killers - But Also Hunted Hunters
As servals patrol the grasslands and marshes of Africa, these solitary hunters are one of the most proficient predators in the cat family making successful kills about twice as often as a pride of lions acting cooperatively. Although able to kill larger prey like flamingos and young antelope, servals prefer smaller game and play an important role in rodent control. One study revealed servals eat nearly 4,000 rodents a year along with over 125 birds and over 250 snakes. But turnabout is fair play so while servals are out looking for a meal, they must also listen for predators like African wild dogs, leopards, and hyenas who will make a meal out of them.

Hearing Equals Eating
Unlike many predators that rely on sight to locate prey, servals might never see their prey until they have their claws in it. In fact, they’ve been known to just sit quietly with their eyes closed listening for their next meal. Their disproportionately large ears enable them to pinpoint prey and make deadly accurate leaps over four yards long into high grass. And with elongated metatarsal bones, they stand about 50% taller than a similar sized cat giving them a leg up on hearing even farther.

Earth, Wind, and Water: Anywhere to Get a Meal
Not averse to getting wet, servals will hunt for frogs and fish in marshlands and even charge into a flock of flamingos in shallow water to catch a meal. They can jump over five feet or more to grab a bird out of mid-air. And their hearing is so acute they can locate prey underground. They will use their long legs to reach into a burrow opening and snag rodents with their curved claws or even dig in the dirt to get at their prey.

About Naples Zoo
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization cooperating in conservation programs both in and outside the wild for endangered species including a full day of fun presentations and wild cruise through islands of monkeys, lemurs, and apes. Ticket includes admission to both the nationally accredited zoo and historic accredited garden along with shows, exhibits, and the boat ride. ($19.95 adults age 13+/ $12.95 children 3 to 12, under 3 free. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age). Zoo memberships and discount tickets are also available online at Naples Zoo welcomes guests daily from 9:00 to 5:00 with the last ticket sold at 4:00 and is located at 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road across from the Coastland Center mall in the heart of Naples. For more, click, follow them at or call (239) 262-5409.

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Tim Tetzlaff
Naples Zoo
+1 239-262-5409 Ext: 122
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