It was a big day for the Canada lynx brothers.
Sherman and Omak underwent their first routine physical checkup this week and were released into their new exhibit at the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Eatonville.
The 14-month-old cats arrived at the park in mid-June but were kept quarantined until a veterinarian could fully examine them Tuesday and give them four vaccinations in preparation for their upcoming public debut.
“It’s the first time I’ve got my hands on them,” veterinarian Allison Case said. “It’s all part of the preventative medicine program so we can establish norms.”
Sherman went first, weighing in just over 23 pounds. Omak barely topped him at 25 pounds. Male lynx in the wild can grow up to 38 pounds.
One by one, Case used a soft dart to put the lynx to sleep before carrying them into her exam room. Each cat took its turn sprawled atop a purple towel on a metal table while Case and her assistants inspected the animal’s eyes, ears and mouths.
Sherman’s physical was over by late morning, and he was taken to his new behind-the-scenes enclosure to explore while Omak visited with the veterinarian.
Case pulled out Omak’s tongue and dabbed away some dirt with a wet towel. She studied his nails, drew blood from his jugular, took full body radiographs and gave him flea-prevention medication.
When temperatures reached the mid-80s, she carefully placed ice packs between his giant front paws and beneath his head to combat the heat.
To complete the physical, Case put a small notch on Omak’s left ear so the lynx’s keepers can tell him from his brother.
Both cats got a clean bill of health.
“Beautiful. Beautiful. Perfect,” Case declared. “They’re lanky teenagers right now.”
Unless a health problem arises, the lynx won’t receive another routine checkup for another three years.
Once done with their doctor visits, Sherman and Omak were moved from quarantine to a behind-the-scenes section of the 1/5-acre enclosure where they’ll now live.
Sherman reportedly explored with vigor, nearly catching a bird that flew too close and sniffing for the other lynx normally kept in the enclosure.
Northwest Trek now has four Canada lynx, three of which will rotate on exhibit for the public to see. The fourth, a female, will remain out of sight.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium also recently acquired a young lynx, Jasper, who joined the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater this summer.
Sherman and Omak were born in May 2013 at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
No date has been set for the brothers to make their big debut, but it could be within days.
“They’re in charge now,” zoological curator Heidi Hellmuth said. “We’re going to wait until they tell us they’re comfortable.”
She said keepers will watch to see when the lynx appear to settle into their new exhibit and respond to their handlers.
“We want them to see it as safety, as home, as this is where they go to feel secure,” Hellmuth said.