Once there was a bobcat named Aries (after the Greek god of War and COURAGE), a wild and fiercely independent creature that roamed the verdant expanses of Florida. Aries was a strong and healthy young adult bobcat, a deft hunter, and a master of his own territory. One terrible day, though, his free-roaming life took a savage turn. Aries, while exploring, stepped into a hidden leg-hold trap, a crude and barbaric device left by poachers seeking to profit from the beautiful creatures of the wild.
The trap had been set indiscriminately, without concern for what creature it might snare. Such traps are not only cruel but highly non-selective. They ensnare whatever creature happens to step into them, from endangered species to domestic pets, from fledgling birds to majestic creatures like Aries. The agony Aries must have endured is unimaginable. These traps are designed to hold animals in place by inflicting pain and injury but without killing them outright, prolonging their suffering and terror.
Faced with the horror of an inescapable prison, the ever-resilient Aries chose a path that would challenge even the strongest among us. He mangled his own leg to free it from the trap; the pain immense, but his desire to live even more so. Yet his trials were far from over. The act of escape left Aries weak, his leg a gruesome remnant, and he had to endure in this brutalized state, emaciated, malnourished, and struggling to hunt with his three remaining legs as his fourth dangled uselessly.
When Deb Quimby of Big Cat Rescue first saw the Facebook post detailing Aries’ plight, she immediately took action. She contacted Jamie Veronica, the sanctuary’s expert Bobcat Rehabber, who in turn reached out to Heather Pepe of Wild Florida Rescue who runs a wildlife ambulance service.
However, Aries’ story took a tragic turn. As the rescue was mobilized, other individuals, driven by vanity rather than compassion, sought to exploit Aries’ suffering for social media attention. Their reckless actions scared the terrified and injured bobcat deeper into hiding, further away from the help that was racing to reach him.
Despite this, the Wild Florida Rescue team eventually found Aries and rushed him to the nearest veterinary clinic, with Big Cat Rescue offering to cover the substantial medical costs. But it was too late. Aries, a bobcat who should have weighed around 25-35 pounds, was found to be less than half that weight. His emaciated form simply couldn’t hold on any longer, and he passed away en route to the clinic. Heather was sad to report the end result, but Jamie Veronica tried to console her saying, “Thank you for the update and for your team helping him. Passing in the safety of a transport was much better than becoming prey.”
Aries’ story is a heartrending tale of resilience in the face of abject cruelty. His necropsy revealed a nightmare of injuries – degloved exposed bone, displacement of a joint with a purulent discharge, and maggots invading the open wound. This evidence pointed to his horrific encounter with a snare trap, a device deemed illegal in Florida but still being used by merciless hunters.
His story serves as a bitter reminder of the urgent need for stricter laws regarding the possession of such traps. We must push for severe penalties for those who indulge in this form of abuse. Only then can we hope to prevent more animals from suffering as Aries did. Aries, a creature of strength and courage, should have lived his life freely in the wild, not become a victim of human greed and thoughtlessness.
Let his memory fuel our fight against such barbarity, our endeavor to ensure that the wild creatures of our world can live free from the fear of such torment, and our commitment to making the world a safer place for all animals.