After 20 years, Flag Acres Zoo in Hoosick, NY closed its doors in 2008. Bernie Hoffman, now Museum Educator with the Pember Museum in Granville, NY, was the keeper. Not your ordinary pet shelter. There were lions, tigers, and bears. Two lynx. Jaguars, monkeys, exotic birds and apes.
Most of the animals found homes at other zoos, including the Canadian and Eurasian lynxes. Bernie tells the story on her website, Wildlife Education by Bernie. Tigers and leopards went to Arkansas, Mae-Ling, the binturong or Asian bear cat went to Pennsylvania, along with the cougar and the fennec foxes. The jaguar ended up in New Jersey.
Bernie missed the comforting closeness of the animals she’d cared for six years, so when her former boss suggested she adopt a Canadian lynx and helped her find one, she didn’t say no.
Bernie tells the story on Max’s website: “It was 2010 when my old zoo boss suggested that I get a Canada Lynx as an ambassador for my educational programs. I had worked with the Canada and Eurasian Lynxes we had at the zoo. The Canada were hand-raised and were extremely sweet while the Eurasians were not. However, the Eurasians weren’t aggressive either. We could clean their enclosure as long as we respected their space. I had to give it some thought as it would be a 20-year commitment. Also, to consider was the cost. He said they normally run $3000 but because of his connection and reputation, he could get me one for $1500 from a zoo we knew and did business with. I started saving the cash and applied to the State for my Endangered Species License. The application process was lengthy but only because one needs to ensure both the cat and public are kept safe.
“Max was born May 4, 2011 and I picked him up on a rainy day in June. He was almost 8 weeks old. His brother was a very shy cat while Max was a little spitfire. So, I chose him. He growled the 3-hour trip home.”
Max may be the only lynx with his own webpage, but there’s a good reason. Max is an Animal Ambassador, and he’s captured hearts and minds around the globe. In January 2016, Hoffman posted a video on YouTube showing how they interact. In the video, Hoffman gently strokes him as he purrs like any other domesticated cat.
Max visits children and families at schools, libraries, and in public parks. You can book him through his website. Bernie claims, “He’s nothing but a big baby!” He’s the star of many YouTube videos, but my favorite is “Sweet and Spicy.” It’s rated Five Stars!