Rescued 2/16/2016 10:40 PM 3504 Ogden St Port Charlotte, FL Died 2/19/2016
I would have thought that time had stood still because Jamie was poised, net in the air, leaning impossibly into the space between us on one foot, and she had stopped moving. Interns, Martin and Devin had also stopped mid step with her. You could hear a pin drop into the high grass that was up past our knees, and the freezing cold water that was up over our ankles. It was like how a live feed just freezes, but you aren’t sure if the connection has died, or if all has just gone very, very still.
My racing heart told me that time hadn’t stopped, but everything around the center attraction had.
At the center of this bizarre scene was a bobcat who had been seen vomiting on the side of the road.
A cat vomiting is hardly an emergency situation and certainly not one you would drive two hours to witness, but this one seemed to have extenuating circumstances. Around 6PM a call came in from a Port Charlotte woman named Sandy, who said she had been on her way to the ER regarding her mother, and had seen a bobcat vomiting on the side of the road. When asked to identify what the cat looked like, as most people don’t have any idea what a bobcat looks like, she said, “Well…it looks like a bobcat.”
Jamie asked what a bobcat looked like to Sandy and she said it had a six inch long tail and was half the size of a German Shepherd dog. Before driving 4 hours, round trip, Jamie asked for a cell phone photo, but the woman was too busy with her mother and the hospital. She said her husband had taken some video, but Jamie wasn’t sure they would be willing to pay the data transfer rate to send it. I queried our database and found 103 people in Port Charlotte. I emailed and asked if any of them would drive to the approximated address of Ogden Street, and tell me if there was really a bobcat there.
Over the next few hours, 11 people responded, and several drove to the scene. All but two said there was no bobcat to be seen. Meanwhile the caller did get a photo and did send the video, but we were already on our way. Two of the people we emailed said they saw the bobcat and that they were certain they could wrestle him into a carrier, but Jamie convinced them not to try as the bobcat could hurt them or run off and be impossible for us to find and help.
Two hours seemed like two days, but Jamie used the time to prepare our interns for what was to come. I’m always surprised that after dealing with bobcats, and knowing how mean they can be, that when we say we need volunteers to help rescue one in the wild, they are so eager and fearless to help. Even when answering the question, “what’s the worst you’ve ever been hurt rescuing a bobcat” by saying, “I haven’t had to peel one off my face yet,” they are still keen to give it a shot.
As we pulled up on the scene, Sandy’s husband was dutifully keeping an eye on the bobcat. He brought us up to speed with important facts like how long the cat had been sitting there (5 hours by this time) how close he had been able to get without the cat running (about 10 feet) and he gave us the low down on bobcats in the area, and how they get along with the domestic cats. He and I both held flashlights on the bobcat’s face, so that Jamie, Martin and Devin could circle around behind him and on the side that was open to the road.
The last thing you ever want to do in a bobcat rescue is chase the wounded cat into the path of another car.
The bobcat was on a dry patch of ground, surrounded by the cold water and knee high saw grass. Jamie asked me to make little sounds with my feet, each time he tensed as if he was going to bolt, to divert his attention away from the approaching captors.
He looked pretty washed up; like he had given up and was just waiting to die. He smelled like he had been dead for three days. It was gaggingly wretched to breathe the air surrounding him. Despite that though, you could tell that if he could make a break for it, he was going to give it a try. That’s when Jamie, Devin and Martin had frozen in mid step.
In a motion too quick for me to see, and just a fraction of a second too quick for the bobcat to respond, Jamie’s net was down over him. He leapt against it and thrashed wildly, but Devin and Martin came down with their nets with amazing accuracy and speed.
In the carrier. Not yet.
But Jamie had described how it would need to go, and ran the interns through it one more time to make sure they knew where their nets had to be, and what to do if he managed to slip free during the transfer from the net to the carrier. Given the fact that he looked to be covered in mange, and thoroughly chewed up by some animal, she warned them again not to touch him; no matter what.
You would think the team had done this together for years; it went so smoothly! The husband and wife who had originally called in the incident were now both standing there and nearly broke into applause over the successful capture. Now for the two hour drive back to Big Cat Rescue where Dr. Justin would be done with Mrs. Claws and waiting for the bobcat who was soon to be named Poseidon.
The Vet Examines Poseidon Bobcat
X-rays didn’t show any broken bones. As suspected, the bobcat was covered in mange and had been beaten up by another animal. His face is oozing from the mange infestation. He has a BB under the skin, indicating someone shot at him. He has a belly full of bones, and he may have trouble passing them, as he is so dehydrated.
His face and elbow have been bitten pretty badly. We have to treat the handling of him, as if he has rabies, since we don’t know what bit him.
He’s getting 400 ML of sub q fluids, treatment for the parasites, a long acting antibiotic and pain meds. 6 injections. No broken bones. Poseidon is recovering in our office because the hospital is full.
Poseidon Bobcat Has Died Feb 19, 2016
Sadly Poseidon Bobcat passed away last night sometime between 12-4 AM. Yesterday he seemed to be turning the corner and ate about 3 oz of food, then in the early evening he crashed. We tried fluids, and different medications, but nothing helped. He became unresponsive and could not regulate his body temperature and so he was put on a heating pad. At least he passed away in a safe place comfortable and in his sleep. We will be sending him out to a specialist for a necropsy. We suspect several things including neurological disease, sepsis from his skin infection, and poisoning. Thank you to everyone who helped bring him in and provide him with such special care during his final days.
Poseidon bobcat update Feb 18, 2016
He’s moving from one side of the cage to the other, with considerable effort, and has drank on his own, but still isn’t eating. We are having to give him injections for pain and antibiotics.
Poseidon bobcat update Feb 17, 2016:
Poseidon is alive this morning and already looking a LOT better than he did last night. He is sitting up and drinking on his own.
The cats, rescued in July 2015, were released to the Preserve on Thursday, February 4, 2016.
Venus Flatwoods Preserve is located in Highlands County, west of Lake Okeechobee, and has been protected and managed by The Nature Conservancy for over 20 years. This 100-acre property provides the perfect habitat for the bobcats. The preserve includes one of the few remaining areas of old growth longleaf pine forest in Florida and is home to many species of wildlife. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker has been observed onsite. The property is surrounded by timber, citrus, and cattle ranch land, and its borders are not adjacent to highways or heavily trafficked areas that would endanger the cats.
“The Nature Conservancy’s Venus Flatwoods Preserve is the perfect location for these two young bobcats. We expect them to do very well in the healthy, maintained habitat of this protected property,” said Adam Peterson, Central Florida Fire and Land Management Specialist, The Nature Conservancy.
The sibling bobcats, named Rain (male) and Dancer (female), were rescued by Big Cat Rescue as kittens when they were found on the side of a highway without their mother in Highlands County. Thanks to the efforts of Big Cat Rescue’s bobcat rehabilitation team, the wild cats were provided with the care and training they needed to be returned to the wild. Cameras will be set up on the preserve in an effort to continue to monitor the now nine-month old cats.
“Rain and Dancer have grown up to become strong, healthy bobcats equipped with the skills to return to the wild where they belong,” said Jamie Veronica, President of Big Cat Rescue. “We are thrilled that they will be released on a vast, protected property where they will be able to find everything they need to thrive.”
Bobcats are found throughout Florida. They prefer deep forests, and are also adaptable to swamps, hammock, and rural landscapes, as well as urban and suburban backyards.
If you love bobcats kittens and want to be part of our efforts to rescue them from certain death, rehab them for life in the wild and then have the pleasure of helping them get back to the wild where they belong, there are several ways you can help.
Wear With Pride
Even if you can’t afford to help, you are their voice. Please be sure to subscribe and share all of our social channels. Just look for BigCatRescue on all of your favorite sharing sites. Use hashtags #BigCatRescue #bobcats and @BigCatRescue
(Warning to chicken lovers, there is a photo on the page of the bobcat eating a chick. These chicks arrive frozen and are the byproduct of the egg industry. All male chicks are usually disposed of at birth. We buy them to feed our cats because whole prey is the most wholesome for the cats.)
We have cameras on the outdoor enclosures, but not enough band width to open it up for public access. Here is a screen capture:
This is just one section of their 5 section rehab run.
Phoenix and Captiva ~ Rescued June 2015
There are two more mouths to feed at Big Cat Rescue! Phoenix and Captiva are two little Florida bobcat kittens who both lost their moms recently in very different, but equally awful ways.
Big Cat Rescue is a licensed bobcat rehabber here in Florida We plan to raise these guys at our sanctuary with as little human interaction as possible so they retain their wildness. When they are full grown, we will teach the kittens to hunt and release them back to the wild in a rural area of Florida.
If you’d like to donate to the care and upbringing of these amazing kittens, click HERE.
Phoenix managed to live through a forest fire last week in Lee County, Florida. Officials hoped to reunite the kitten with his mother, by leaving him near where he was found after an initial assessment that he seemed ok. But three days later, the kitten was dehydrated and still calling frantically for his mother, so he was sent on June 1 to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). Staff at CROW evaluated Phoenix and helped him recover well before delivering both kittens to Big Cat Rescue on June 25, 2015 for the next phase of their rehab for release.
We think there could be no more appropriate name than Phoenix, the mythological symbol who raises from the ashes to be reborn.
Here is a compilation of news stories about Phoenix:
The larger kitten doesn’t have a name, and I am just using Captiva here as a holding space.
Captiva’s story is every bit as heart rending, but didn’t make the news. She was the one Big Cat Rescue agreed to take first. Gareth Johnson, the CROW Hospital Manager, worked with us a few years ago when we rehabbed and released bobcat Copter. Gareth called Big Cat Rescue on June 1 to report that some people had trapped a bobcat kitten and then left it in the trap without food or water for a couple days before deciding they should feed her something. Of course, they had no idea what to feed a 4-week-old nursing bobcat kitten, so what they fed her made her sick. Lucky for Captiva, they finally made a good decision and dropped her off at CROW. The kitten was stabilized, despite the fact that she arrived in such bad shape no one thought that was possible.
CROW has state of the art medical facilities, but is not set up for bobcat rehab. Raising and rehabilitation a bobcat requires a lot of space and infrastructure. Gareth called and asked if we would be able to take the little one. I told him that I’d be happy to drive the 5-hour round trip to pick up the little darling. Gareth wanted to do a SNAP test first and said he’d call me to come get her as soon as that was done.
Meanwhile Phoenix, the bobcat kitten who survived the forest fire, was directed by the Florida Wildlife Commission to be sent to CROW and he arrived that same evening, June 1.
It’s not even 2 days into the new year and I got another bobcat call.
I was on my way in to work when I got a call from our Gift Shop that a man had walked in and asked if we were missing a bobcat. I’m always surprised at how many Floridians don’t know that bobcats are native to our state. What had started out as a beautiful morning, quickly turned dark and dreadful.
As I approached the location it was clear, from the beautiful spotted underbelly facing the sky, that the animal who was being hit time and time again by motorists, was indeed a bobcat. I waited for a break in traffic to run out and retrieve her broken body. Usually bobcats seem to make it out of the roadway, or at least to the shoulder of the road, but she had been crushed so many times, that it felt like my heart would break into as many shards, when I felt her in my trembling hands. I thought about the male bobcat who had lost his life at this same crossing just a little over a month ago. On both sides of Sheldon Road there is massive development underway to add more stores, homes and a recent emergency clinic. Ironic…
I vowed to create a document to track all of these calls. We have done a good job of documenting the bobcats we have rescued, but what about all of the times when we didn’t get there in time? We have gotten 12 bobcat calls in the last year; four of them were dead on arrival and we never did find the fifth bobcat, although we did find blood on the pavement. Right now we have 6 bobcat kittens in rehab and hope to release all of them this year. While it brings great joy to return them to their rightful place, it is just barely enough to make up for the pain of finding the broken bodies of those we can’t help.
So many campaigns suggest that you should give wildlife a “brake” and it’s a lovely sentiment, but it you have ever seen a bobcat run, then you know there is no way a person could avoid hitting one if the cat darted out in front of them. The only real solution is to build under and over passes that connect major green ways for the animals and high fences with a cantilever at the top to keep wildlife from scaling them. The straight, 8 foot fences that are used current are totally inadequate. These are pricey projects, but without them we will lose our wildlife and all that is beautiful and pure in this world.
We are working hard to end the private possession of exotic cats and doing so would put us out of business. We really look forward to that day, but I know that won’t be an end to the long days and sleepless nights. We will always provide rehab and release for native bobcats and that need seems to be increasing. It’s hard to know if the number of bobcat calls are escalating, or if it is just that people know to call us now, because we are so well known for our premiere rehab facilities. 12 calls were an all time high in 2015 and were three times higher than any year, dating back to 1994. Even other rehabbers will often call us for the time consuming and costly process of getting a bobcat ready for release back to the wild.
We have a major project underway at the sanctuary for a Small Cat Fun area, similar to our Vacation Rotation, but as soon as it is done we need to begin fundraising for a complete overhaul of our Bobcat Rehab enclosures. We have had to temporarily outfit cages for bobcat rehab that were not designed for that purpose and while it works, and is better than any other options out there for rehab, it isn’t optimal. We want to start from scratch to build rehab enclosures that are bigger, allow for more muscle toning, and that are further away from human encroachment. With more than 30 years of bobcat rehab under out belts, we know what we need and think our donors will help us make it a reality. If saving native bobcats and returning them to nature appeals to you, then you can help out here:
DOB appx 10/1/11 – 12/13/15
On Mar 5 we got a call from the Florida Wildlife Commission asking if we could help a blind bobcat that had been reported by the Manager of the Cemex Mine. His name is Tommie and he loves the wildlife that calls his land a sanctuary. He knew there was something desperately wrong with this little kitten from the first day he saw her, which was about two weeks before.
We made arrangements to drive up to the mine on Mar 6 to set a humane trap because the kitten had not been seen since Feb 27. Jamie and I drove up with a trap, nets, carrier, and bait for four days and Tommie Deaner agreed to check and set the trap daily.
On the way to Center Hill Tommie texted that the bobcat was in sight and that he had caught some fish for her and was feeding her. Jamie texted back to stop because traffic had us running a half hour late. Since there was no way to get a fish away from a starving bobcat, Tommie improvised and got a box out of the trash to trap her in.
When Jamie and I drove up we were waved to the scene by Cemex staff. When we saw the box we were thrilled at the prospect of NOT having to chase a bobcat all over place. The problem was that the box didn’t have a bottom.
We slid a piece of plywood under the box, like you would pick up a spider with a cup and cardboard (per Jamie) and then put the whole thing in the van. The plan was to shift her from the box to the carrier inside the van, so that if the bobcat escaped, she was at least trapped in the van… with us. Well, that part wasn’t very appealing, but it was better than the risk of losing her and having her starve to death.
If you have never seen Jamie net a cat; you haven’t seen art in motion. Quicker than a blink she had her in the net and backed up to the carrier door. Since she really couldn’t see well enough to put up much of a fight, we got her in the carrier pretty neatly. She growled for a while, but the belly full of fish and the swaying motion of the van for an hour and a half put her right to sleep.
She was suffering from starvation, blindness and parasites and was so badly debilitated that she will never be a candidate for release. She has very limited, if any sight, so she will spend the rest of her life at Big Cat Rescue.
Tommie Girl watches Gale and the interns cleaning out Canyon Sandcat’s third section to prepare it for a tunnel, all of the weeds out of Nirvana Ocelot’s enclosure and many more landscaping projects.
On 12/13/15 Tommie Girl was found laying next to her water bowl, completely drenched, as if she had a seizure and had dumped the bowl on herself in the process. Keepers found her breathing shallowly and staring out into space. The vet happened to be right next door and rushed in, but she was dead within minutes. We sent her entire body out for necropsy to two facilities in Georgia, but despite one of them specializing in brain issues, neither could determine her cause of death. She was one of our youngest residents and we never expected to lose her so soon, even though she had arrived with severe neurological issues.
It is very rare that we get video of Tommie, so this was a real treat!
We have so much to be thankful for; wonderful people like you who help ensure that our big cats stay fed, our AdvoCats all around the world who work for laws to end the abuse of big cats, our Big Cat Rescuers who donate their time to caring for the cats, running the sanctuary and educating our guests, and to live in paradise. This issue is our gift to you!
Holiday Goody Gifts for YOU!
Big Cat Rescue has teamed up with Explore.org who is hosting LIVE STREAMING video of the cats. See tigers playing, swimming, sleeping, and eating. Watch Nikita lioness as she plays and sleeps. Watch adorable funny kittens playing.
FIRST: Go to http://Explore.org/BigCatRescue to see the live streaming videos and use the “Snapshot” feature there to take your own photos of the lions, tigers, and kittens.
EVERY photo submission gets YOUR NAME placed in a drawing for a free t-shirt.
SECOND: Submit your photos to us before midnight on Christmas Eve. The T-Shirt Winner will be announced on Christmas Day. We will pick 30 photos to include in a special edition screensaver that we will give away Christmas Day. Find out how to submit your photos here, where it says, Win A FREE Big Cat Rescue T-Shirthttp://chatbigcats.com/newsletter-gifts-december-2015/
Video Updates Since the Last Mews Letter
Bobcat Release Site Needed in Highlands County FL
State law requires that bobcats be released back to the same county where they were picked up for rehab. Rain and Dancer came from Highlands County, so we need a release site that is in excess of 40 acres (the more land the better) where the owner will give us written permission to release them. If you have land, or know a land baron, please email Cat@BigCatRescue.org and let us know.
Can’t Get Enough of the Big Cats?
Now you can watch them LIVE on explore.org/bigcatrescue Check out each of the webcams below:
Windsong Memorial Cat Hospital
AdvoCats Come in All Sizes
Our AdvoCats come in all ages, from all over the US and the world. Eleven year-old Alexander P. proves that anyone who cares about big cats can make a difference. For the past two years Alexander has supported Big Cat Rescue through our Buy a Brick program by collecting donations rather than gifts for his birthday. This school year, he and his fellow classmate are organizing a school fundraiser to sponsor one of our very own bobcats in honor of their school mascot.
Just this week, Alexander’s family surprised him with an early Christmas gift – a trip from Maryland to our sanctuary in Tampa, FL! During his visit Alexander learned more about the issues of private ownership and about our federal bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Wanting to voice his support for big cats, Alexander plans on visiting the Capital next year to meet with legislators and tell them just how important this bill is to him. Thank you for all that you do for the cats, Alexander!