Species Spotlight

Iberian Lynx

Names: Iberian Lynx or Spanish Lynx aka King of Doñana (Lynx pardinus). The word lynx is said to come from the Greek ‘leukos’, meaning bright. It refers to the lynx’s eyes which reflect light and shine like jewels when lit up.  

Size: Imagine an average-weight pussycat, tawny, with black spots, then multiply by 2 or 3. Lynxes can be up to 40 inches tall.

Communication sound: Like domestic cats, cheetahs and cougars, these guys have hyoid bones that allow them to purr! If only we knew what they were saying … 

Favourite hangout: Mountains, plains, forests, and scrub with views, like those found in southern Spain’s Doñana National Park, Europe’s most biodiverse natural space. Doñana’s landscapes also include lagoons, marshland, and dunes, and they provide refuge to 37 mammal species, including King Lynx. They’re also home for 21 species of reptile, 20 freshwater fish, thousands of insects and 300 species of bird. 

Favourite snack: Wild rabbit. Failing that, duck, deer, or partridge. Apparently, vegan pussies – and lynx – haven’t yet come into their own.

Toilet humour? It’s whispered that Iberian lynxes are one of many species who can’t fathom humans’ embarrassment around poo. Very sensibly, they apparently use their number ones and twos to mark out territory, which can be anything up to 12 square miles. 

Love language: Females are capable of breeding at age two. Most wait until they have their own pad, or territory – which can mean hanging around until one becomes free – before thinking of boyfriends. And no need to wax facial beards or ear tufts before that all-important first date. Male lynx like their girls hairy!


Red flag: Great-great-great grandlynx of the world’s Most Threatened Feline lived it up in southern France, Portugal, and Spain, but life got tougher in the 1940s. In 2002, fewer than 100 Iberian lynx were thought to be left, in southern Spain. Since then, the wild population has risen to 1,500+. Many of these live in Doñana National Park, which is battling the effects of illegal irrigation. Other irritants include new high-speed roads, hunting, and diseases that kill off yummy bunnies!

Growth: Kittens are usually Easter babes, and they tend to arrive with one or two siblings. Most are ready to leave mom sometime between eight and 23 months old. 

Eating habits: Roughly one rabbit a day for adults, although moms with young to feed need to catch about three. 

Facts: Solitary by nature, these big cats are also restless. During their kittens’ early months, it’s not unheard of for moms to move their families as many as 12 times! Not just for a more suitable den, nearby water, and the aspirational undergrowth-dense neighbourhood, but to avoid pesky predators. In the wild, Iberian lynx can live up to 15 years.

Personality type? The Short-Tailed Softie?! The Rabbit Lover.

How at risk is it? Endangered (EN).


The Unseen