With about 80 cats of 10 species, Big Cat Rescue always has something interesting going on and we want to share it with the world. Our limitations have been the high cost of outdoor cameras and enough bandwidth to make it viable. At the bottom of this page is a map and a video of potential camera locations.
Vacation Rotation Enclosure
The Vacation Rotation enclosure is 2.5 acres where we rotate different lions, tigers and cougars for two week vacations. At the 18 second mark, if you can imagine being about 15 feet up in the air and looking down at the tiger, is where I would put a web cam so the pond and fountain are up front. It happens to be the point closest to Internet, which is about 75 feet away.
Every two weeks the new cat or cats move in, so there is always a lot of activity that day and then typically a lot of exploring in the early morning and evening hours. During the heat of the day, it will be cats snoozing, but I could watch that all day.
Max and Mary Ann
Max and Mary Ann are two young bobcats who were rescued from different situations, but were young enough to introduce. Now their favorite spot to be is on top of one of their platforms within just inches of the side wall of the cage. A camera on the side or above them would have a lot of action in about a 3 foot square space, as that is their favorite spot to groom, play and nap.
Warning, the music will stay in your head the rest of the day.
TJ Tiger Pond
TJ the tiger has a 2+ acre enclosure that goes down into our lake. One of his favorite places to lay is on the lake bank and he loves to splash in the lake. The camera could be place at the same vantage point from where this was filmed, as we were up on a cat walk above him.
Windsong Memorial Hospital
We have a Nest cam in the Windsong Memorial, directly over the operation table.
At the 40 second mark in this video you can see the inside of the hospital. At the 3:09 mark, you can see the ceiling where there is a cut out to the loft above. This is where the camera has the best view of the surgery.
Feeding Time at Big Cat Rescue
One of the things people never get tired of seeing is the cats being fed. The cats are all fed in small wire enclosures because we have to train them to come into a small space for vet exams and emergencies. It’s not a very interesting spot, except around 9 am every day, but then it can be just amazing to see and hear a cat crunching through bones. Probably the best place for a camera would be one of the 3 feeding areas attached to the Vacation Rotation area above because it would always have a different big cat and would be about 300 feet from the other VR camera.
In this video you can see the hospital room where cats go through rehab before being allowed outside.
Current Nest Cam
This is currently being used by Nirvana the Ocelot.
This is an aerial shot of our property, outlined in green. The red area is the Vacation Rotation area and Intern housing. Intern housing is on the left 1/3 and the VR is the other 2/3’s of that space. At the bottom right you can see the cell tower that is paying rent to be on our property, but has no dishes on it. They have removed most of the supportive gear, generators, etc., so I don’t think they have plans for the site any time soon. Nextel built it, but a new company pays us rent now. I’ll find out who, if this helps get us better coverage. We have Frontier FKA Verizon FIOS through our property at 10 spots (all buildings).
Below is a video where I walked around today and shot the areas that I think would make for the best web cam experiences.
Green is our boundary. Red is the Vacation Rotation area. If the site has an explore.org live cam, there will be a link.
1. Vacation Rotation 15 feet up w/ view of entire enclosure http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-vacation-rotation
2. Vacation Rotation feeding area http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-feeding-station
3. TJ Tiger lake bank http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-tiger-lake
4. Max and Mary Ann the Bobcats on their platform
5. Rehab (actually further to the right in a 3 ac parcel adjacent http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release
6. Kitten Cabana for domestic kittens that are always between 6-8 weeks of age http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-kitten-cabana
7. Vacation Rotation for small cats that is under construction
8. Nakita Lioness from 15 feet up in the corner of the open area http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-lioness-nikita
9. Cat Hospitals (one for surgeries, the other for rehab) http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-windsong-memorial-cat-hospital and X-ray http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-x-ray-cam
10. Alternate feeding station that looks into the cypress bayou for TJ tiger
Cage rest sounds pretty peaceful for the cat, but it’s a real challenge for the caregivers.
See 2 playlists of some of our rehab bobcats
While we do bobcat rescue, rehab and release in Florida, we will not relocate bobcats as state law requires that they be released very near where they were captured. They must be released on at least 40 acres and we must get written permission from the owner of the property. They may not be released into state owned parks (strangely) but rather must be released on privately owned land with the land owner’s consent.
Big Cat Rescue has decades of experience rehabbing and releasing bobcats back to the wild where they belong. We provide huge, naturalistic enclosures where these cats can learn or perfect their hunting skills before being released back to the wild. We have trained staff who are experts at capturing an injured bobcat or hand rearing orphaned bobcats until a surrogate can be found.
We go to great lengths to keep these wild cats from imprinting on humans and monitor their care via surveillance cameras to make sure they are thriving. When they are healed, or old enough for release (about 18 months of age) we find the best habitat possible for sustaining them and set them free to live out the life that nature intended.
If you have a bobcat emergency in a state other than Florida, we can help you find a rehabber or will be a resource to wildlife rehabilitators who need help with bobcats, lynx or cougars. When you are searching for a bobcat rehabber ask the following questions:
1. Do they have experience with bobcats?
2. How big are their rehab enclosures? (Ours start at 1200 square feet and some are double that)
3. Do they feed a live diet of prey to insure that the cats will be able to hunt for themselves?
4. Do they keep people, including themselves to the extent possible, away from the bobcat so that they do not imprint on people and end up approaching humans after release?
5. Do they have a vet on staff or on call 24/7 for emergencies?
Rehabbing and releasing bobcats is much more difficult that the rehabilitation of most wildlife. These magnificent little wildcats need every opportunity to fulfill their role in nature and Big Cat Rescue is here to give them that second chance.
We are thinking the bobcat rehab rebuild is going to run about a quarter of a million dollars.
The area that would be most suitable on our property would allow a foot print of about 200 feet by 800 feet and would give us about 1/3 of that in thick woods and 2/3 in grassy runs. The woods are a blessing and a curse when we are talking chain link boxes.
Click map to see larger
The pink areas are our permanent big cat residents. The green shaded area is where we want to move our bobcat rehab facilities. It will be the opposite end of our property from the new hotel that is going in on Easy Street.
The 18 acre lake was dug out by the previous owner and then he was filling it in, starting w/ the green shaded area, with concrete and construction materials from demolition sites. He dug the lake down to 30 feet in places, so we could have that much concrete to drill through.
Wild bobcats DO dig, so we have to have a floor. That’s why I was thinking that a big chain link box, complete with roof and floor, might actually work there. It would have to be 1 in mesh and at least 11.5 gauge to meet state standards and keep their live rats from escaping. We would put dirt, grass and shrubs over the flooring after install.
This year we had 7 bobcats in rehab, which is the most we’ve had at one time, but as our reputation for successful releases grows, more cats seem to end up here, so we need to be ready for that growing demand.
We are confident that we can end the practice of private ownership of big cats, so the wildlife rehab work will expand as the need for big cat sanctuaries decreases with our legislative wins.
We own the three houses and two barns that are south of the green shaded area, so there is water, power and Internet nearby. The main house and the two barns have a life estate by the elderly owner though, so I’d have to build something for indoor care of injured cats, but it wouldn’t have to be huge because of the opportunity to take over the existing structures soon.
Currently the intensive care is done in our on site Cat Hospitals, but it would really be nice to have the wild bobcats totally away from the hubbub of the sanctuary, in their own recovery facilities adjoining the outdoor runs.
What I envision here are 8 long, narrow runs, maybe 20 by 230 each, that could be opened up into 4 that are 20 x 470 when there are 4 or fewer cats. Still puzzling about how to make the space expandable, without shared walls, which are just a tragedy waiting to happen.
Whether a bobcat comes to us injured or orphaned, they usually go through these stages:
1. Inside intensive care
2. Outside, small (low) cages so they don’t climb and fall.
3. 1000 -2500 square feet of space to perfect their hunting, climbing, hiding skills.
Another factor that I haven’t quite figured out yet, is how to mount cameras so that we can make sure the cats are doing well, and to engage the public. Our Bobcat Rehab camera is very popular at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release and a great way to engage people in caring about wildlife, so I want to build it with a goal of it being a good virtual visual experience.
Each cage will require 27,120 sf of 1 in chain link mesh. Or roughly 64,750 linear feet of 8 foot high chain link mesh. http://www.yourfencestore.com/ lists 10 gauge, 1 inch mesh for 11.14 per linear foot which means a retail cost.
Below are mockups by Kenni Pedersen of what the bobcat rehab runs will look like.
Who took a car to the face and lived to tell about it!
Update April 28, 2016
On Sunday Thor will be returned to his rightful place in the wild. Be sure that you are a fan of ours on Facebook.com/BigCatRescue and that you have your settings to include us first in the posts you see, so that you don’t miss the LIVE broadcast of his release. Meanwhile, you can read Thor’s miraculous story here: http://BigCatRescue.org/Thor and you can help fund bobcat rescue, rehab and release by purchasing Thor themed tees, totes, mugs, pillows, hoodies, phone cases and more here:
This morning, at 1:15 AM Jamie and Carole responded to a call in Brandon about a bobcat being hit by a car. Dr Justin Boorstein came in and they did Xrays to see what could be done.
Jamie recalls the event:
I got a call at 1:15 AM and it’s a man saying that his wife has found an injured bobcat in the middle of the highway in Brandon. Most people have no idea what a bobcat looks like, so I ask him to have his wife text me a photo. Dang! It’s a bobcat! Now I’m awake.
I call my mom to ask if she has a net and carrier at her house next door, so that I can save time getting to the scene, but she doesn’t. She gets out of bed and says she’ll go with me. As I hop into her truck she says, “Do you have a coat?” It’s in the 50’s, which is freezing to us Floridians, and I say, “I’m in my pajamas! No, I didn’t bring a coat!” Turns out she’s barely dressed and forgot hers too. Thankfully there are blankets in the truck.
The good news about early morning bobcat calls is that there is no one on the streets so we get to the sanctuary (4 miles away) in record time and exchange her pickup truck for the Tundra with a topper that we won in a Facebook contest a few years ago. (Thank you everyone who voted for us!) We had just released Rain and Dancer the 9 month old rehab bobcats the day before, so there are still nets and gloves in the back. We grab a big carrier out of the Emergency Response Center and are on our way.
Meanwhile the Good Samaritan who had called in the accident is frantic because the police have shown up on the scene and told her she can’t stay in the middle of the highway. She puts the officer in charge, in touch with me by phone and he’s saying he doesn’t think the bobcat is going to make it and maybe should be put out of his misery. I tell him that a bobcat in shock can look quite dead, but can regain consciousness very quickly and that they have an amazing ability to heal. I don’t want him to shoot the cat in the head, so I tell him that my husband is a veterinarian and standing by to humanely euthanize him, if that is what has to be done. He asks how long before we will be there, and by now we are about 20 minutes away.
More calls and texts back and forth and the woman who originally called us seems sure the police sent her away so they could dispose of the cat. We are driving as fast as we can, but it’s a long way from Citrus Park to the Brandon mall and we aren’t allowed to use flashing lights and sirens in order to save wildlife. Maybe we need a law that would allow rehabbers the same use as ambulance drivers.
The policeman contact me again and he sounds like he’s ready to call it quits because the bobcat looks so bad. He says that he doesn’t think the cat is going to make it, and that he’s bleeding from the nose and his eyes look bad, and even thinks he can be picked up by hand. By now we are 5 minutes out and ask him to wait. He agrees.
Carole recalls what happened next:
As WAZE is telling us that we are arriving at the location, I see the flashing lights of a patrol car and start to pull up behind it, but then notice there are patrol cars, lights flashing, at every corner of the huge intersection. My first concern is which one should I pull up next to, in order to have our tools closest to the cat, but then my heart leaps with joy to realize that the agency has cordoned off the entire road to insure that no one runs over the bobcat who is crouched in the middle of the road. I’ve never seen the police be so concerned about an injured animal before and it makes me grateful beyond belief.
In the center of all the chaos, I can see him and he looks HUGE. He’s in pain, so he’s all puffed up, but the lights from angle, highlight a halo in his fur tips that make him seem enormous. I wonder to myself if I brought a big enough carrier. Jamie and the officer she had been speaking with grab the nets and I grab the carrier out of the back of the Tundra and head toward the bobcat. As we approach Jamie asks how close the officer has been to the cat so she can assess his fight or flight distance. The officer says he’s been right up on him, but that the cat seems to be recovering. He suggests that perhaps, “His bell has been un-rung” meaning that he thinks the bobcat might be coming to his senses, and may be more likely to bolt.
Artfully Jamie breaks away from the cat’s view of me with a carrier and the police man with a net coming at his face, and sneaks around behind the bobcat. Sure enough, when we are about 10 feet out the bobcat decides that he isn’t going to be taken alive and he uses the last of what he has in him to leap to our left. Jamie comes in like a Ninja with one downward sweep of the net over him as he leaps!
It is a righteous netting (as we call it around Big Cat Rescue) because not only is the net over the cat, but the forward movement of his leap against the netting has landed him over the outside ring of the net’s neck. It is that configuration that allows us to lift a bobcat securely, because they can just hop right out of a net if it doesn’t fold over the edge. My heart swelled with pride that Jamie had shown such proficiency under such pressure. The officer showed some pretty amazing skill as he leapt right into the fray and put his net down over the top of Jamie’s. That little bit of extra security can make the difference between keeping a bobcat in a net and having them break free.
I put the carrier in front of Jamie’s net and ask the officer to trade spots with me. Jamie and I have moved countless cats from nets into carriers over the years and it isn’t easy. One wrong move and the cat is free. In cases like this, where the cats legs were not injured, he could definitely outrun us and get lost in the underbrush before we would be able to catch up. His facial injuries would then cause him to die a long and painful death. We couldn’t risk it.
The officer (rather expertly, I might add) put one foot behind the carrier to brace it. Sometimes an animal goes in so fast that they are able to push the carrier away from the nets and then can turn on a dime to escape through the crack. Jamie lined her net up to the open door and I used mine to push his tail end through the opening. The officer or Jamie, slammed the door shut, while retrieving the netting, but it happened so fast, I’m not sure whose hands were where, but the bobcat was safely secured.
We shouted our thanks out to the officers who were guarding the intersection and gave the officer in charge our brochure to share in case they get more bobcat injury calls. Jamie called her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein and told him we were successful and on our way to the Windsong Memorial Hospital. He met us there around 2:45 am.
Emergency Diagnostics at the Windsong Memorial Hospital
X-rays showed that all of the damage is to his face. His jaw is fractured both top and bottom and will require very delicate surgery and lots of cage rest. His eye socket is crushed around his left eye and the impact and broken bones are putting pressure on his brain and his eye, which is unresponsive. One canine was broken off, but the other three are in good shape. His breathing sounds horrible but we think it is because of the damage to the nasal cavity and the swelling. It looked like there could be some tearing to the trachea, but no way to tell with just X-ray. We really need a sonogram machine.
Thor is in critical shape, but we don’t have all of the extensive bone plates, screws and drill necessary to fix his shattered jaw, so it will be later today before he can be sedated again at another hospital that is better equipped for car strike type injuries.
Since it is now 4:20 am, the vet wants to wait until tomorrow afternoon to sedate him again, as doing so too soon could kill him.
We will post updates as we get them below.
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Thor was fed chopped meats during the time that his jaw was healing, but it’s done healing now and he isn’t wanting to kill or eat rats. We found the beak of a bird in his cage, so we presumed that one had managed to get in and get caught by Thor, so we tried him with quail. Ms Claws caught her quail very quickly, but it took Thor longer than we would have liked. We will be counting on our explore.org viewers, who provided these lovely photos, to let us know how his hunting goes.
He may just need more time to rebuild the muscle mass he’s lost while on cage rest for his broken shoulder blade.
Thor ate 17 ounces of food for breakfast. He’s taking his meds (with a lot of insistence by Jamie) and grooming, but still doesn’t seem to have figured out the water issue. We are still working on ideas. Maybe pond water?
Update Feb 11, 2016
Thor ate 15 ounces of food off a plate, without having to be fed on a stick, but he’s still not drinking. We bought him one of those $100 water fountains, and he’s figured out it is water, because he’s using it as a self flushing toilet. Cats pee in streams and ponds so that others don’t know they are in the area. Now we just have to figure out how to get him to drink out of it, AND elevate it so he can’t pee in it.
Update Feb 10, 2016
Jamie Relays Thor’s Rescue Story to Ops Mgr Gale
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Reaches Out
The Eye Drops Seem To Be Working
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Lives!
The day after Thor’s surgery to repair his jaw I woke up and raced to my computer to see if he had survived the night on our Arlo cams. Jamie and Gale help me monitor those live webcams, but they don’t offer a public link, like the explore.org/bigcatrescue live webcams do.
Update Feb 5, 2016 4PM
Thor the bobcat is back from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay where Dr. Justin Boorstein repaired his jaw. We are waiting on deciding if the non working eye and broken canine should be removed. We will consult with experts on both to see if either can be saved.
Thor is recovering in the West Boensch Cat Hospital on site and will soon be moved outside.
Thor’s care instructions to the Bobcat Rehab Team
Thor had surgery to repair his lower broken jaw. The break in his upper jaw was not misaligned, and so it will be left to heal on its own. This means that we need to be very careful about spooking him. We do not want him banging up his face when it is in this fragile state. He gets scared very easy, so walk slowly around him and be very quiet.
We are consulting with Dr. Miller with regards to how we can try to save his left eye. He is currently not blinking, and so we may need to try eye drops until the swelling goes down and he is able to blink. Justin and I will try this tomorrow and see how it goes.
For now he is not on any meds, we wanted to see if he would eat tonight before starting them. I will feed and clean him in the morning tomorrow. After that I will update you all on what medications he will need to be on.
We want to keep his meals small the first few days or so. He can only have soft food, so we are going to feed him a tennis ball of mush in the AM and another in the PM.
“I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!” I was desperate, because I know how most of the staff, at Department of Natural Resources agencies across America, feel about bobcats. They are just competitors to the hunters who want to shoot the “game” animals themselves. They say things like, “The only good bobcat is a dead bobcat.”
Mike assured me that he didn’t care about the money and that he would go help, if the fish and game officer would allow him, but he really didn’t think that would happen. I’ve kind of gotten ahead of myself though, as I am still pretty upset over the whole ordeal.
3:58 PM I got a call from a surveyor who was working the area of Fulsome Creek Road and Poole Road in Sparta, Georgia. He said he’d come across a bobcat in a leg hold trap who was panting and panicked. He couldn’t get close enough to the cat to free him (you know how bobcats are) but he didn’t want the bobcat to starve to death like the raccoon in the next trap over.
It’s illegal to trap animals, without a license, unless they are considered a nuisance. Even under those circumstances, the law states that you have to check the traps every 24 hours. The raccoon near the bobcat was badly decomposed, so we knew this was either an illegal trap or the trapper wasn’t abiding by the law.
The caller said his name was Mike and that he’d called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources an hour earlier, but no one had called him back. He just couldn’t get the haunting look of the bobcat, left trapped to suffer and die a cruel death, out of his mind.
He called Big Cat Rescue.
I suggested that he try a local vet, who might know a rescue group in the area, but he said Sparta was a “po-dunk town” that didn’t have any vet clinics. I took his name, number, the street intersection (two dirt roads in the middle of nowhere) and said I’d try to track down a rehabber.
I went to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division to see if I could find any local rehabbers in Hancock County. Rehabbers are a wonderful kind of people, who will risk it all to save wild animals, and nurse them back to health, but I can count on one hand the ones that have any sort of marketing sense. There are rehabber lists, but they are always outdated and just about useless.
There weren’t any wildlife rehabilitaters in Hancock County, so I pulled up a map of surrounding counties. Greene, Taliaferro, Warren, Glascock, Washington, Jefferson, Baldwin and Putnam Counties, and only one rehab facility amongst them.
That one place, the Mockingbird Hill Wildlife Rehab Center, was in the next county over; Washington County.
I called both numbers, left the info at both answering machines, and then turned my attention to local veterinarians.
I called Tim Gress, the person who had run a sanctuary in Georgia, where we had gotten Kali Tiger. He said he was over an hour away and couldn’t leave work. He said he didn’t have the tools to deal with a bobcat anyway. I told him he could come visit Kali and he said he was saving up vacation time to do that.
The closest veterinarian I could find, was also in Washington County, so it would be a long shot, but I called them.
It would be an hour drive for them but it would be 6 and a half hours for me and I can’t take controlled drugs across state lines and couldn’t take the bobcat in any case as I am not licensed in Georgia. By the time I could get there, it would be the middle of the night and no chance that I’d find the bobcat on my own.
I got a kindly woman, with a very southern accent named Amy, and she said she knew the Game Warden, Bryant Adams, in Glascock County. She said that he was the one who covered Hancock County, since they don’t have their own Animal Control Services. She said she would call him. I asked her to call me back if she was not successful. I wasn’t going to let this bobcat chew off his own foot even though I hadn’t figured out what Plan B was going to be.
I’d been calling and texting, back and forth with Jamie Veronica, and she had checked with Dr. Justin Boorstein about any drugs that could be used to sedate a bobcat that might be legal to transport across state lines and he said there were none. Even if we were able to transport the drugs across state lines, we aren’t licensed to use them and he can’t just up and leave work for a two day mission to save the bobcat. AND even if he could, he’s not licensed to practice medicine in Georgia.
4:44 PM I call the surveyor to let him know that I’ve called the vet, who is calling the Glascock Game Warden, and Mike tells me that meanwhile the DNR has called him back. He told the officer where the cat could be found and the officer complained that all he had was a choke stick and he was by himself, so he had no idea how he was going to get the bobcat out of a foothold trap alive. Mike said from the way the guy laughed while saying it, that he feared for the bobcat’s life.
That’s when I said, “I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!”
Mike agrees that if the DNR officer will allow it, he’ll drop off his workmate, turn around and make the 45 minute drive back to the scene to help. He gives me the phone number for the officer and I called, but got voicemail, so as I am leaving him a message, with Mike’s offer, a call comes in.
I switch over and it’s a deer rehabber named John Burke who I mistake, initially, for the fish and game officer. Once we clear that up, he tells me that he has no experience with bobcats, but he’s willing to try. He asks what I would do if I didn’t have any way to sedate the cat.
I tell him that we do two nets down over the cat, then a big blanket on top and would try to fish the trapped leg out with gloved hands, to pry off the trap. I give him both the fish and game officer’s number and Mike’s number and suggest that he call DNR first to offer assistance. He says he will.
Meanwhile, our Operations Manager, Gale Ingham, has overheard all of this and gets on the phone with our Gift Shop Manager, Honey Wayton because she thinks Honey has relatives in Georgia. They are all willing to go help someone as well. I get another text from Mike who tells me that a second agent from DNR has contacted him and is going out to help the first one.
Amazing how many people show up to help after all!
So if you are all on edge, like I’ve been all day, you will be thrilled to know that Corporal Dave Allen of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources returned my call the next day to let me know that he had successfully released the bobcat. He said there was minimal damage to the foot and he believed the bobcat would be able to hunt and survive with no further intervention.