Sad news about Petra, our Eurasian lynx - The Big Cat Sanctuary

Sad news about Petra, our Eurasian lynx

Petra, our Eurasian Lynx

The Big Cat Sanctuary is afraid to let you know that Petra, our oldest resident, and the only lynx we have ever had at The Big Cat Sanctuary, was put to sleep on Wednesday the 20th of March.

Petra joined the Sanctuary at 7 years old following a previous life as an animal actor.  Strong willed back then, just as she has been since, she had apparently made her feelings for showbiz quite clear to her previous owners, and the message was received loud and clear that it was time to find Petra a new home. After temporarily living at a different sanctuary, we were glad to provide her with a forever home.


She arrived, so strikingly beautiful, with looks quite different from the other cats at the Sanctuary.  A bobbed tail, tufted ears, piercing eyes.  And right from the start she was bright, interactive, and curious, if a little cautious.  But the caution didn’t last long.  Petra settled in swiftly and was quickly taking an interest in keepers and the new world around her.  As we got to know her, we learned that she was quite relaxed about having people in her enclosure with her, allowing us to bring in a new type of enrichment, known as ‘swingy’.  ‘Swingy’ involved dinner on a rope which Petra had to catch for herself, and man, that girl was fast!  The keeper in charge of exercising her during this game would undoubtedly have their work cut out for them.  Petra learned to duck, dive, and jump to win her prize and constantly kept the keepers on their toes.  After catching her prey, she could proudly take it away and enjoy a well-earned meal.

Her favourite type of enrichment though was undoubtedly scent enrichment.  Whatever the scent, Petra wasn’t fussy.  Spices, perfumes, scented oils, all of these were heaven for Petra and as soon as she discovered them, she would immediately start to rub her head and her cheeks all over them, rolling, dribbling, in absolute heaven, and a definite break from the usually very regal looking lady that we have all known her to be.  Petra was always well presented, keeping herself very prim and immaculate.  She even changed colour throughout the year form a deep terracotta colour in the summer to a frosty grey in the winter.  She really was a sight to see.

As she grew older, Petra would enjoy the quieter things in life, an evening asleep in her outside shelter, soaking up the sun in the summer evening light.  Eyes shut, body totally stretched out and relaxed.  For the last few years of her life, we had reason to believe that she was almost completely deaf, but this never bothered her. It just meant she could doze in her sun trap, totally undisturbed. Her loss of hearing never seemed to change her behaviour, she continued to be totally comfortable in her surroundings and with her keepers, behaving with the endless patience and grace that she had always shown us.

For a while now Petra has been being treated for seizures, and with her advancing age had started to develop arthritic changes in her spine.  We were able to treat these conditions with medication and keep Petra stable and comfortable for a number of years.  It wasn’t until more recently that she suffered another seizure and managed to tweak her already arthritic back, making walking painful for her.  With the use of anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling and pain relief to make her more comfortable again, Petra improved, but sadly at the age of 21 the improvement wasn’t ever going to be for long and we finally found that we could no longer keep her comfortable or maintain her welfare and it was fairest to put her to sleep.  She was the human equivalent of 100 years old!

It’s very difficult to think of the Sanctuary without Petra, she has been part of our family for so long.  She has been the most incredible, beautiful, and completely charming example of how a lynx can be and we consider ourselves totally privileged to have had her call the Sanctuary her home.