On 9/13/12 Skip the bobcat was discovered having a violent and prolonged seizure and foaming at the mouth. Dr. Wynn was contacted and the staff were instructed to give him medication that would hopefully ease the seizure. Unfortunately his seizure was too severe and he died shortly after. Gale gave him chest compressions and Jamie gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation to try and revive him to no avail.
We searched his enclosure for snakes, poisonous frogs, and any other clues that may have caused this reaction. We found one dead toad with a hole in his abdomen and are working to identify it. We will be performing a necropsy to see if we can discover the cause of his death. Blood samples have been taken to Dr. Wynn. Jamie is driving him to the University of Florida for a necropsy because of the concern for rabies, since he was foaming at the mouth and she was giving him CPR. He's been vaccinated, but we have to take every precaution.
Skip was much loved by a huge community including our volunteers. I am trying to contact each of the SkipAHolics by private message and ask that they do not post to facebook or social sites, including the SkipAHolics group for at least 2 days to give our volunteers time to find out from checking their Big Cat email.
Since we usually ask that our people wait a week before broadcasting such news in order that their fellow volunteers do not find out in ways that diminish their importance as onsite caregivers, Jamie emailed everyone at BigCatRescue.org with this notification in the hopes that they check their Big Cat email daily. Please do not post anything about Skip, or even hint of his passing until 9am EST Sunday Sept. 16. 2012 so that our volunteers do not find out the hard way by checking into Facebook.
Thank you for caring so much about Skip and all of our animals. I must say that Skip looked the picture of health today and that was largely due to your loving thoughts and care. If it turns out he died hunting toads, at least he was being who he was designed to be; a magnificent predator.
I was right in the middle of sending an email to LaWanna about some promotions she was dreaming up for the ChatBigCats.com site when Honey Wayton, our gift shop manager called and relayed an urgent message.
A woman had called to say they had found a bobcat alongside the highway and had it loose in their SUV and wanted to know what to do next because it was getting pretty mad.
Obviously this was their first bobcat rescue, because no one makes that mistake twice. I called the woman who said her name was Nici and she said that the bobcat laying alongside the road had caught her eye. Her husband, Skip had chased him down with a blanket, scooped him up and put him in the back of the car. He was dragging his back end, so the chase wasn’t much of a challenge, but picking up a VERY mad bobcat made him a fury of claws and teeth.
Nici said they were two blocks from their home and that they could just leave him in the car for us to deal with, if we wanted. As I frantically brought up a map to see that she was 2 and a half hours away, I didn’t think that was a great idea. I asked if she had a pet carrier that they could just plop the blanketed cat into before he fully regained his senses.
She didn’t but her friend Lorie did. Turns out that all three of them had visited Big Cat Rescue in the past and were eager to do anything they could to help save this skinny, crushed little bobcat. My instructions had been to completely envelope the cat in thick blanketing and take the top off the carrier, if necessary, to accommodate the entire bundle, and then bolt the top back on. I don’t know why that didn’t work for them, but I called Nici back a few minutes later, after starting Jamie on her way to Mt. Plymouth, and Nici said, “I hope you guys will name this bobcat Skip, after my husband because he is so brave!”
Slashing teeth and claws be danged, Skip had managed to get a grip on the bobcat’s scruff and lifted him into the carrier. Even though Lorie had brought over a German Shepherd sized crate the bobcat managed to go spread eagle over the entire door making it a real effort to push him into the pile of blankets in the carrier. Kind of like baptizing a cat in a cereal bowl.
They covered him up and waited with him while I called every vet I could find between there and Tampa. My concern was that the cat would go into shock before we could get him to a vet here, so I just needed someone to do a preliminary check and stabilize him. By the time I had called a dozen vets and a couple of rehabbers two hours had passed and Jamie was nearly there.
Our old van is a 1998 and has seen better days. It was shuddering so badly that Jamie Veronica had taken it into a station to check the tires but they were OK and the shudder happened even when sitting still. I’m no mechanic, but sounded like a rod knocking to me and I was sweating whether or not the van would even make it to the Mt. Dora area, NW of Orlando.
Once I gave up on finding a vet near the bobcat, or even on the way home, who would give him the courtesy of even the most basic care, which I assured them I would pay in advance if necessary, I began to try and sort out what to do when he arrived in Tampa.
If Jamie didn’t break down, she and the bobcat should be back in town around 6 pm. Our primary vet, Dr. Wynn had a previous engagement hosting a dozen people at 6pm. I asked if I should contact Florida Veterinary Specialist or our secondary vet, Dr. Dave Murphy. Dr. Wynn said she would call her clinic and see if Dr. Dave Danielson might be willing to look at the bobcat. He had worked with native bobcats before that we brought in, and was willing to help.
Another frantic call from Honey and Howard and I were on our way to the sanctuary to give tours. We have a Free Teachers promotion going on and instead of having 2 or 3 groups of twenty showing up at 3pm we had 9 such tour groups yesterday and it turns out 12 groups today including a wedding. It was the biggest single day the sanctuary has ever had. It was probably good timing because otherwise I might have made Jamie crazy by calling every five minutes and asking, “Where are you now?”
During one such call Jamie said she would need me to bring the squeeze cage to the vet’s office. How we were going to get the bobcat out of the carrier and into the squeeze cage was yet to be determined, but getting it there was the first step. As soon as my tour ended I trotted across the parking lot to the on site West – Boensch Cat Hospital. I chatted with Jack, who was recovering in the hospital from a nasty accident he had with the front gate, while I loaded the squeeze cage into my truck. Jack is doing fine and is living proof that cats do have nine lives.
I ordered pizzas for pick up because I knew Jamie hadn’t eaten since this morning and didn’t know if the vet and his staff would be skipping dinner to fit this bobcat, now named Skip, into their already hectic evening schedule. Jamie already had Skip inside and he was well on his way to a long, deep sleep by the time I arrived. She said they had tipped the crate up on end and hand injected him through the grated door. Within only a couple of minutes he was sleeping…or so we thought.
On the x-ray table he began blinking and trying to sit up, so he got a little more ketamine and went back to sleep. The first x-ray showed the crushed pelvis and Dr. Danielson asked if we wanted to go any further as this was going to be a lot of major surgery with limited hope of recovery. I told him we had spent more than $7500 on the last bobcat who needed plates, so we were willing to spend the money as long as the cat didn’t have any cat-killer diseases that would make him unfit for release. The blood tests were done and he had a clean bill of health so the only other obstacle, which was determined later during a sonogram was that he has internal bleeding and his spleen may be beyond recovery. Only a couple days of quiet rest and careful observation will let us know if he is going to live long enough to have the work done.
The vet tech Heather pulled ticks off Skip while Jamie checked his ears for mites, his fur for fleas and Dr. Danielson powdered his raw, purple rump, bruised badly from the impact. Judging by his pearly white fangs we guessed his age to be around two years old and while finely muscled, he only weighed a mere 17 lbs.
After consulting Dr. Wynn by phone, Dr. Danielson decided to take a lot more x-rays and did all of the other work, such as flea treatment and tests, so that in a couple of days, if the spleen is still operational, Skip could go to FVS for the precision plating and pinning necessary to give him full mobility.
We waited to make sure he would wake up OK from the anesthesia, which he did rather quickly, and then covered him up to rest quietly in the dark over night. Being a wild cat, close proximity to humans is very agitating. His whole life has been based upon the knowledge that man is to be avoided at all costs.
If Skip makes it through the night we may set up cameras to monitor him tomorrow so that he isn’t being exposed to constant stress.
We have been posting his progress at http://www.facebook.com/bigcatrescue along with photos and we will be posting video soon.
You can check on him there and post your wishes for a speedy recovery.
I am very thankful for all the love that has been focused his way and if love can mend a broken bobcat, then Skip will surely be ready to run free again soon.
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
Skip's Facebook Fans
Skip the Bobcat became a Facebook Phenomenon over the New Year’s Week of 2010-2011
Big Cat Rescue’s posts are in bold, followed by Skip’s 193 pages of well wishes from his Facebook fans. His chat window on UStream was even more voluminous, but is deleted each time the system resets, so we were unable to capture it, but it was very much like the following.
Big Cat Rescue - Tampa FL
Bobcat needs emergency vet! Hit by car in Mt. Plymouth at noon. Now in a carrier in a garage. Jamie is on her way from Tampa but is two hours away. I've called 10 local vets and no one will treat the cat for shock until we arrive. If you know a vet between Mt. Plymouth and Tampa please call them and ask if they will treat the cat until we get there.
Skip the Bobcat
Skip's injuries made it impossible for him to be released back into the wild because his pelvis canal healed too narrowly to pass fur and bones. He has to be kept on a soft diet and have constant monitoring to make sure he doesn't get blocked up. Skip has gathered a huge fan club called the SkipAHolics and they check in on him via web cam videos and photos taken by our Keepers below. They have set up a donation page to gather some things for the Big Cat Rescue Wishlist here:
Check this page often for the latest Skip Cam Episode. Each episode features video clips of Skip the bobcat captured with camera traps installed in his enclosure.
Help Big Cat Rescue use the same technology in camera tracking that is being used to save tigers and jaguars in the wild. These camera traps have dropped in price from $450 to $150 and have video capacity now so we would like more of them to place on some of our elderly cats to monitor their health issues. You can help us buy them by donating at the top right of the page.
Skip the Bobcat Calls Big Cat Rescue Home
Skip was hit by a car in December of 2010. Despite extensive surgeries to repair his shattered pelvis, he did not heal well enough to survive on his own in the wild and could not be released.
The pelvic canal is too narrow for him to pass fur and feathers, so Big Cat Rescuers had to create a safe space for him outside where he would be least likely to catch his own “fast food.”
If he ends up in trouble we will be able to get him the veterinary attention he needs, which would be impossible to do if he were released.
He now has a permanent home at the sanctuary. We are very sad that he can never live free but at least he can live the easy life on Easy Street.
Thanks to a motion sensitive camera trap you can keep an eye on Skip as he adjusts to living outside if you have a facebook account.
Skip the bobcat at big cat rescue. Video clips captured via camera traps installed in Skip's enclosure courtesy of the Skipaholics.
Video clips captured using a camera trap in Skip the bobcat's enclosure. Camera traps provided by his fan club the Skipaholics. For full length HD videos of our cats, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/BigCatRescue
Skip the Bobcat Touches Hearts Worldwide
TAMPA - Rescuing stray cats is nothing new for Nici and Skip Haerter, but their latest rescue is no ordinary cat.
"I love animals and there was never a question in my mind. I'd do whatever it took," Nici said.
While driving down Highway 46 in Sorrento, Nici saw a wild bobcat in the grass. Except, the wild bobcat wasn't acting very wild.
He wasn't really moving at all, likely hit by a car.
Nici called Skip for help. He brought his truck and loaded the bobcat in, which was the easy part because the cat was still suffering from shock.
When they arrived home, the scene was different.
"Growling real bad. Hissing, fighting at the blanket, his claws were going like crazy," Skip recounted.
The couple had a friend bring a large dog crate over. They carefully handled the wild animal, feisty despite massive injuries.
"I just don't have a fear when it comes to hurt animals," Skip said.
The Haerter's secured the bobcat, now named after Skip, a spot at Tampa's Big Cat Rescue.
"We weren't even sure he was going to live," founder Carole Baskin said. "His spleen looked like it was totally annihilated. He had a lot of internal bleeding."
His pelvis was completely shattered as well, but he pulled through the first critical days and hours worth of surgery.
Dr. Callum Hay and his team with Veterinary Surgical Services donated $3,000 worth of labor on New Year's Eve to rebuild the bobcat's hips.
Today, cameras track his progress to minimize human contact, but they've actually maximized it.
"People are just addicted to watching this cat and making sure he's going to have the best possible life," Baskin said.
Live streaming video of "Skip" has gotten more than 36,000 hits in just a couple weeks.
He's also got two Facebook fan pages, already with more than 200 friends.
"I've gotten Facebook messages from Sweden, Canada," Nici said. "He's literally touched lives all over the world."
The Haerter's think it's because people are looking for something to believe in, and hope for, right now.
Though Nici wasn't looking for anything.
She found skip because she took a wrong turn down Highway 46 that day, but looking back, maybe it was the right turn.
"I don't believe in coincidence. I was sent there for a reason."
To donate to the Big Cat Rescue, visit their website
Posted: 11:42 PM * By Allison Morrowc
Tributes to Skip Bobcat
Lynda Licht Sep 18, 2012
I just read this:
"Yesterday was the beginning,
tomorrow will be the end.
And somewhere in the middle
we became the best of friends."
Oh Skip, who knew we wouldn't have tomorrow? One little broken bobcat came into our lives and inspired so many. We will all be best friends forever.
Unknown Sep 15, 2012
Dear sweet little bob. On a planet full of discontent and hatred you managed to bring the world together. One feisty, wild bobcat who never gave up. I am so glad I finally got to meet you and have you give me that famous Skip growl in person. Run free and teach Rufus to be a big boy bobcat...
Unknown Sep 15, 2012
You left us to soon but you were loved and will be missed by all. Bye sweet angel
Regina Rinaldi Sep 14, 2012
Oh Skipper-doodle such a shock!! I rarely saw you, but I always heard you. You had many fans Skip nation wide and all will be deeply saddened by this. Run free Skip: no more soft diets and cagewire.
Afton Tasler Sep 14, 2012
I would have to say I'm shocked. Just the day before he passed I was cleaning front, and I didn't have to look for him because as I was walking around I heard a loud growl coming from the saw grass. Oh Skip you will be missed by many.
Unknown Sep 14, 2012
Awww Skipper, I'm going to miss you and your little stank attitude! The first time I cleaned your cage the sky was dark and I forget who I was with but we were in front of your den and all of a sudden we heard this roar(?) that sounded like a massive cat was in there and then you stuck your little head out! Thankful I had the honor of helping take care of you, now you can run free with no more pain like you were meant to and your spirit is free. Love you ya little stinker!
Marie Schoubert Sep 14, 2012
Oh no! Poor little guy! I was just starting to think that he could be my next ABob! I also loved him! R.I.P. Skippy!!!
BethAnn Bluder Sep 14, 2012
It is very sad the terrible way you had to leave us, but it's a small comfort to know we gave you the best life we could
Carole Baskin Sep 13, 2012
This was so unexpected. We are all just reeling from losing this brave young bobcat
More Memorials at http://bigcatrescue.org/category/memorials/