It’s the most dreaded time of the year
It’s the most dreaded time of the year
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.
Thanks to explore.org we have a webcam on one of our Rehab Bobcat enclosures where viewers can watch the current residents as they recover from injuries, or learn how to be bobcats when they grow up. http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release
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:
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!
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-Shirt http://chatbigcats.com/newsletter-gifts-december-2015/
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.
Now you can watch them LIVE on explore.org/bigcatrescue Check out each of the webcams below:
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!
Jennifer Leon, MPA Director of Outreach
The Windsong Memorial Hospital was completed in January 2015. Nikita the tiger was the first to benefit from having a tiger sized X-ray machine on site.
The X-ray table can easily handle over 1,000 pounds. The nearest X-ray machine of this size is nearly 3 hours away.
State of the art X-ray and software in a lead lined room with lead aprons in fashionable cat prints.
Big Cat Rescue utilizes ZIMS for our animal care records.
Wet table with dental X-ray for any size toothache.
The Windsong Memorial Hospital includes an anesthesia machine, heart monitors, overhead surgery lights, a warmer for the patient, blood machines, auto clave, microscopes and more.
The floors are easy to clean and yet a no slip surface. The surgery table has been replaced with a new, hydraulic table.
The second story loft has a plexiglass viewing window and seating for 20 people to watch the surgery without contaminating the surgery suite.
View from observatory above shows the delicate eye surgery.
The Windsong Memorial Hospital began construction in the Spring of 2014 after the generous donation of an X-ray machine and was completed in January 2015.
Nov. 2014 Steady progress is being made on the new Windsong Memorial Hospital. At this writing the concrete slab has been completed and the shell of the building is complete. The vendor for the X-ray machine has started the production process (they make these one at a time to order).
We explored options for bringing the required 3 phase power to us. Because we are at the end of a long dirt road far from the nearest node of that kind of power, the cost to bring power under the only practical scenario was estimated to be $69,000 by our electric company. In addition it required them to get easements, put in new poles, and then put this into their construction backlog. In short, it would have been hugely expensive and taken months.
With the help of the X-ray manufacturer and our electrical engineering firm we came up with a better solution. Since the X-ray machine is only used intermittently, it can be powered by a generator. Of course, we are not talking about those little units you see in Home Depot. We are talking about a 50kW diesel powered generator that is 8 feet long and weighs a little over one ton! This generator will cost an estimated $25,000 – $30,000 installed. Still very expensive, but less than half the cost of the power line and it can have us up and running MUCH sooner. Currently our engineering firm is completing the electrical drawings that are needed to apply for the electric permit.
So, what is left to do? We need to get the electrical permit, install the wiring and fixtures in the hospital, install the air conditioning and the generator, finish out the inside of the building, get the X-ray machine and install it, and set up the ultrasound system. A lot to do, but we are on the way.
The total cost of the building including the generator is currently estimated to be about $85,000. This week our fundraising received a huge boost from Sarah and Bruce McWilliams, who previously provided the funding for the X-ray machine itself. These passionate advocates for the cats have generously offered an additional $42,500, half the estimated cost of the completed hospital, as a Matching Grant to match all other donations dollar for dollar.
Our sincere thanks to the McWilliams’ for this very generous matching donation and to all of you who help us earn the match!
Little Feather was five days old when she came to Big Cat Rescue. She had been bred at a game farm that bred bobcats and cougars. Game farms often breed wild animals to be shot as game, or to be exploited in other awful ways. One of the most common is one that you have probably seen.
If you have ever seen bobcat or lynx mothers with their kittens in a field of flowers, you have probably seen game farm cats. Photographers will pay a lot for images they can’t get in the wild because no mother bobcat or lynx is going to let you get anywhere near her kittens.
The mothers are drugged, and wired down in place behind the flowers or log so you can’t see that their back legs are tightly secured to the ground. The kittens are turned loose and they run to their mothers. As she awakens, surrounded by photographers, she is terrified and gives them the hissing images they know will sell.
The photo session is concluded by the mother being darted again so that she can’t move. This constant drugging destroys her kidneys and she will die young, but game farmers just consider that the cost of doing business. Kittens who don’t look just right, or who grow too old are discarded as pets, to hunting ranches and other bad places.
Please, don’t buy books, calendars or other items with wildcat mom and kitten photos and don’t pass them around on social sites, unless you know that they were really taken in the wild or at a sanctuary that doesn’t buy, breed or sell wild animals.
When Little Feather arrived we began bottle feeding her, and she quickly became everyone’s little darling. Her surrogate mother was Breezy, a freebred domestic cat rescued from the streets.
Little Feather was very sickly as a kitten and spent days in a pouch around Carole Baskin’s neck to keep her warm and to monitor her every breath. She never grew to be very big for some unknown reason, and full grown she weighs only 16 pounds.
Little Feather is a very odd looking bobcat, she is stocky and has a fluffy coat like a northern bobcat, but has the dark coat pattern with small spots and her face has little ruff like a southern bobcat. She is likely a cross between the two.
She is now over 20 years old, but still just as cute as a kitten thanks to those huge eyes.
Due to blood clot, Little Feather has been lame in her back leg and has been receiving K-Laser Therapy three times a week thanks to K-Laser Veterinary. She still limps a little, but the overall improvement has been amazing. See the video below to show the progression from the time of lameness until her near recovery.
Here are a few pages that show the K-Laser therapy for Little Feather:
Sponsor Little Feather http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat
2014: Little Feather is a 21 year old bobcat at Big Cat Rescue. She was reported for having a puffy looking chin, which turned out to be some bad teeth. The dental work went fine and she seemed to be well on her way to recovery, so we took her back to her Cat-a-Tat.
When we let her loose, we were horrified to see that she was lame. See how three vets, a number of techs, K-Laser and Big Cat Rescuers all came together to try and give her back the ability to walk.
See how you can help: http://bigcatrescue.org/cat-hospital-wishlist/
More About Little Feather:
* January 2015 video has some footage of Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-feb-16-2015/
* Wildcat Walkabout Video has footage of Little Feather looking cute – February 24, 2014: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-feb-24-2014/
* This page has a short video clips of Little Feather enjoying being scratched: http://bigcatrescue.org/dont-they-miss-being-petted/
* Today At Big Cat Rescue for October 2, 2014 – This page has a lot of photos including Little Feather. http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-oct-2-2014/
* Today At Big Cat Rescue for November 12 – This page has several photos of the cats including photos of Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-nov-12/
* Now at Big Cat Rescue for July 29, 2014 is a video that has some footage of several cats including Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-july-29-2014/
* Now at Big Cat Rescue for June 22, 2014 is a video that has some footage of several cats including Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-june-22-2014/
* Today At Big Cat Rescue for September 16th – This page has a lot of photos including Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-bug-cat-rescue-sept-16/
* Today At Big Cat Rescue for October 17, 2014 – This page has several photos of the cats including photos of Little Feather: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-oct-17-2014/
* Walk About Video for May 3, 2014 has some footage of several cats as well as Little Feather – Little Feather turns 21 and gets a doll house. http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-may-3-2014/