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The Lory Park Zoo has donated a four-year-old caracal to the Joburg Zoo; Swift will soon meet his new playmate, and will be ready to see visitors.

LOVE may be in the air at the Johannesburg Zoo this Valentine's Day as Emily, a one-year-old caracal, welcomes four-year-old Swift as her playmate.

Lory Park Zoo has donated Swift to the Joburg Zoo, where the elegant little feline is currently in quarantine before being introduced to Emily.

About the Caracal
Caracals are sometimes called the Persian Lynx, desert lynx or African Lynx, even though the caracal is not a lynx at all. It does not have the characteristic ruff real a lynx would, but does have ears with similar tufts.

In the wild they can be found in northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and south western Asia as they prefer grasslands (savannahs and tropical grasslands) and deserts.

The medium-sized feline is a nocturnal carnivore, most active at night, and is thought to be most closely related to the African golden cat and the serval. It is solitary and generally only comes together with other felines to mate.

The caracal's name is believed to come from the Turkish word Karakulak, which means black ears. The animal sports 20 different muscles, making its hearing acute, and very effective at detecting prey. The sleek felines are normally dark red, grey, or golden sand in colour and have black ears with tufts. Young caracals have reddish spots on their underbellies; these spots disappear when they grow up.

Hunting and feeding
Despite its size, it seems the caracal will take on bigger animals in its hunts. Scientists have found dead ostriches with caracal tooth-marks in them, which indicates that the animal is fast enough to outrun and catch an ostrich, and strong enough to overpower and kill it.

The caracal, an accomplished acrobat, has also been known to leap up into the air to successfully catch and kill flying birds, but in general they hunt rodents, birds (including ostriches), antelopes, gazelle, and rabbits. The animal avoids eating very stiff fur by neatly shearing it off with its claws, but it will tolerate feathers. Their agility has been prized by earlier civilizations, with them being bred for hunting in India and some parts of the Middle East. The animal also seems to have been prized in Ancient Egypt, appearing in paintings and as sculptures.

The caracal can live up to around 12 years in the wild, with some adult caracals living up to 17 years old in captivity.

The Joburg Zoo welcomes Swift and says a big "thank you" to Lorry Park Zoo for the donation.