Lucky "pet" bobcat finds home at AZA-accredited Michigan zoo

Saginaw Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square welcomes new bobcat, Kyra

By Sue White – The Saginaw News
January 22, 2010, 9:20AM

Kyra the bobcat, the newest resident of the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square in Saginaw, is one of the fortunate ones.

At least once a week, someone calls the zoo to ask if it will take in a wild animal that didn’t work out as a pet. Almost all are turned down, said Rick Ballor, service manager.

Kyra is “very lucky,” said Karen Mulders, the zoo’s animal collections supervisor.

The zoo has turned down appeals to take in rabbits, chickens, iguanas, snakes, alligators and more, she said.

“There’s really no place for them to go,” Ballor said. “It’s very sad.”

But for Kyra — pronounced Ky-ra — there’s a happy ending. The spotted feline looks more like an overgrown house cat than a wild predator, but let a bird or a squirrel race across the top of her pen, and she’ll show her prowess, jumping to the heights.

Wagging her stubby tail, Kyra races for the fence, eager to play with Mulders, who brings her twice-daily, 7-ounce portions of beef.

Kyra will be ready to greet visitors at the Arctic Zoo Fest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, the next time the zoo is open to the public. Admission is by donation to help care for the animals during winter months.

“She’s adjusted very well,” Ballor said. “We give her mice twice a week and a bone every Sunday.”

Kyra’s last owner, who lived in northern Michigan, gave the 4-year-old bobcat to an animal rescue group when he moved out of state.

After the animal checked out to be healthy, with only a few intestinal parasites to clear before she came to Saginaw, Kyra appeared the perfect answer to the death of the zoo’s beloved bobcat Dakota, who suffered renal failure. A 30-day quarantine is a standard initiation process for new animals, and Kyra has finished it.

Kyra’s neighbors have gotten used to her presence, as well. The zoo’s timber wolves have stopped pacing along their fence, trying to place the new scents, Mulders said, and it doesn’t take long before Edgar the raven — named after author Edgar Allan Poe — squawks out a greeting.

Other highlights for the upcoming year at the zoo include the introduction of Flemish giant rabbits and a new tunnel for the miniature train.

“We hope to expand our Australian exhibit,” Ballor said. “And we’re getting the go-ahead, under the species survival plan, to look at breeding our capuchin monkeys.”

Kyra’s pen offers plenty of shelter and activities, Ballor said, and the bobcat has shown friendliness.

“They’re native throughout the United States, from the southern parts of Canada to Mexico, so she knows the climate,” Ballor said. “She likes people, too.”

Again, Ballor stressed, Kyra’s isn’t the common outcome for wild pets. Next comes coaxing Kyra to step on a scale. Zoo officials don’t yet know how much she weighs, Ballor said.

“We’re going to watch her closely when the zoo opens for weekends in mid-April,” Mulders said. “We had a fair amount of people here on Dec. 26, and she did well.”

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2010/01/saginaw_childrens_zoo_welcomes.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org

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