A seven-month old kitten was adopted from a breeder out west after a long and exhaustive search.

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EAST AURORA,NY - What a difference a year can make ! This is Kodiak, a resident Canada Lynx at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center. Last year about this time, he was a lonely cat, forlornly crying for a companion. These days there's no more crying, as Kodiak has a new friend, Kree.

The seven-month old kitten was adopted from a breeder out west after a long and exhaustive search. The need was there after Hawk Creek lost two other kittens, Acadia and Sitka, to heart disease caused by inbreeding of captive cats. Everyone at Hawk Creek were crushed by the loss.

Tanya Lowe is Director Of Wildlife Education at Hawk Creek. " We were pretty much devastated, as was Kodiak, because he went from being by himself, and just having the companionship of his human keepers, but then he had the taste of having his own friend of his own species, so Kodiak was extremely upset when we lost Sitka, and it was the most heartbreaking thing we had ever witnessed."

But the word "defeat" is not in the Hawk Creek language, and they knew they had to keep going for Kodiak. After their earlier experience, they were very careful in choosing him a new mate.Lowe tells 2 The Outdoors that once the young feline was introduced to her new companion, it didn't take long for them to become fast friends. " After a couple weeks of supervised visits, longer period of time, them being together while we were out here to keep an eye on them, then we realized that Kree was going to take charge of the cage, and they would be just fine."

Although the staff at Hawk Creek spend a lot of time with Kodiak, that's no substitute for having another Lynx around. His new friend has made a marked change in his life, and his cries have now turned to purrs. "Now he doesn't cry," says Lowe "Every now and again he'll see one of us, and he'll do a call for us, and he's saying hey, come over and play with me, but he's not crying, he's not lonely and that's all we really needed to do to make him happier."

But no man is an island, and that applies to Hawk Creek as well. Part of the credit for this success story goes to the community, which answered an internet drive to raise funds for the kitten. The money donated was a big help in adopting Kree, said Lowe. " With how heartbroken everybody who knew these cats was...the community many who hadn't even met Acadia or Sitka, some of them hadn't even met Kodiak, to see how many people were willing to help out with that meant a lot."

And so this story has a happy ending, and the hope is that the pair will produce many more healthy lynx. But for Lowe and all at Hawk Creek, the mission doesn't end here, it's one that's important to us all, and needs everyone's help .

"We just need to remember that these animals all have a purpose, they all have a reason, they all have a role to play, and that makes them very important in the environment. Even if you're someone who doesn't like to go outside, you still need the environment to survive, it's not a luxury, it's a necessity, and it needs to be protected as such.

You can help Kodiak, Kree and Hawk Creek, and find some great Christmas gifts at the same time ! Visit their new online gift shop at www.hawkcreek.org/shop

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