Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets: Adults $11, Child (3-12 yrs) $6
Africa, south of the
Open savanna, wetlands, on edges of swamps and shores of lakes
Diet in the Wild:
Rodents, lizards, amphibians, birds
Diet at the Zoo:
Up to 15 years in captivity
The serval has yellowish fur with dark spots, long limbs and a lean body. It measures between 28 and 38 inches in length and weigh up to 40 pounds. It has erected ears that are relatively large for the size of its head.
A solitary cat, the serval is an excellent “pounce” attacker. It locates its prey mainly by hearing, and can pounce up to 13 horizontal feet, and 3¼ vertical feet. It strikes its prey with its forepaws, and often catches birds in mid flight. The serval’s relatively long legs and neck elevates its head to 30 inches above the ground, enabling it to see and hear clearly in the tall grass.
Servals come together during courtship and mating. Gestation period is 75 days and a litter of 2 to 4 young are born. Cubs remain with their mother for up to a year. Its den is made amidst the tall, thick grasses.
This species is at relatively low risk, and is in fact favored by farmers as it hunts rodents and seldom attacks livestock. The North African subspecies is however endangered. These cats face a growing number of threats including an increasing human population, bushmeat hunting and loss of habitat, especially drainage of wetlands. Servals are also highly vulnerable to domestic dogs which may be a prime reason they are absent around larger human settlements.