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Cat's out of the bag: Lynx kittens debut at Minnesota Zoo

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Four playful Canada lynx kittens made their public debut Thursday.

The kittens, two boys and two girls, were born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 6 – it was the zoo's third litter of lynx in five years, according to a news release. After spending several weeks in their den, they're finally old enough to explore their new habitat on the Medtronic Minnesota Trail, the zoo says.

According to the zoo, Minnesota used be home to the most lynx in the Great Lakes, but numbers dropped to near zero in the 1980s. Lynx were once hunted and trapped in Minnesota, but due to declining numbers, the animal has been protected in the state since 1984, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says.

Canada lynx have been listed as a "federally threatened species" under the Endangered Species Act since 2000, and the zoo calls these kittens "important additions to this species."

Newborn Canada lynx typically weigh no more than a half-pound at birth, the Star Tribune says.

Here's video of the kittens in their new home:

The zoo says while the kittens adjust to their new space, it may be hard for visitors to see them because the cats may choose to hang out in their den instead. But here's a clean shot of the young felines, courtesy of Galen Sjostrom and the Minnesota Zoo. More photos of the lynx cubs are available here.

Canada lynx facts

Canada lynx have dense silvery-brown coats, ruffled faces and tufted ears. Their extra-thick fur and large snowshoe-like paws are perfect for living in snowy climates, like northern Minnesota and Canada, the zoo says. They also have long legs, which helps them stay above snow drifts.

Lynx aren't fast runners and aren't able to run for long distances, which makes them skilled and patient hunters who stalk and attack their prey at close range, the zoo says. Lynx primarily eat snowshoe hares – and the population of lynx fluctuates with the population of the hares.

They have sharp, retractable claws they use to capture prey, fight and climb trees to escape predators such as wolves.

Lynx have a wide range of vocalizations which they use to communicate. Their sounds range from very high pitched to a low growl.

Lynx weigh anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds, with males typically larger than females, and are about 3 feet tall, the DNR says.

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New lynx kitten debuts at Minnesota Zoo

The zoo on Thursday unveiled its new Canada lynx kitten on the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. The male lynx, born May 11, has been behind the scenes with its mother. Now that he’s big enough to leave the den, he’s getting acquainted with his new exhibit.