Winter Bobcat FLM Day 1


Female Bobcat

Rescued 1/22/2022

Approx date of birth 7/2021

Date of death 1/31/2024

Became a permanent resident: May 16, 2022-deemed non releasable by Dr. Boorstein and the FWC

Winter Bobcat was rescued 1/22/2022 in New Tampa after a caller reported a very skinny, disoriented, shaking, wobbling bobcat in their driveway.  Watch her rescue video below.  Then keep an eye on her progress via her LIVE web cam.  Below that you will see some highlights captured by those who keep an eye on our rehab bobcats over night and through out the day.  When she arrived she weighed only half of what would be healthy at a mere 6 lbs 4 oz.

Want to help?  You can donate at or find other ways to help here:

Winter Bobcat Day Two 1/23/2022

Wobbly but hungry.  Winter spent 12 hours in her crate, where we couldn’t see her so everyone was waiting breathlessly to see if she made it through the first night.  The Florida Wildlife Commission’s vets and biologist have been alert to Winter’s condition.  It looks very much like FLM and she may be the first cat to come in alive, and stay alive more than a few hours, with this disease.  If that is what ails her, we may be able to isolate the cause and save the Florida Panther and Florida Bobcats from dying a horrible death of starvation due to this neurological impairment.

Feline leukomyelopathy (FLM), is a disorder which affects non-domestic cats. The disorder causes microscopic changes in the brain and spine, causing varying degrees of rear leg weakness and difficulty walking. The disorder was identified in panthers and bobcats in Florida in 2019.

Could Winter Be the Dayflower Houdini?

Dayflower-2020-06-23 at 3.35.25 PM

Email from Carole to FWC:  “Jamie, Victor and I caught an FLM candidate near 9242 Dayflower Tampa, FL 33647 in Feb. 2021 which was thought by residents to be the same cat they saw wobbling in June of 2020.  Even though we caught the Dayflower cat, and saw him/her in the coyote trap, they managed to break out.  We’ve been back to the area on a call once since but never caught the cat again.   The Garden Alcove cat we caught yesterday, Winter, was only 2 miles away. See map.”

Winter Bobcat Rescue Narrative

by Carole Baskin

May The Force be with you rang through my head.  We had been called to New Tampa about a bobcat acting strangely about 40 minutes away.  By the time we got there the bobcat was hunkered down in a tangle of jasmine, ferns and blackberry thorns that made about a 10 foot thick ring around a majestic palm tree.  Jamie and Victor drove from their home and got there first.  I brought Karma Hurworth and Michael Heap with me and the rescue van full of bobcat gear.


We circled the palm on our hands and knees and used the long end of our nets to lift up the thick tangle to try and catch a peek underneath.  Michael saw movement and we heard the bobcat bark a warning at us, so we knew she was in there somewhere.  There was just no way to flush her out though because she was perfectly safe as long as she was within about the 25-30 foot wide brush pile.  It was too thick to crawl under to her, so I found the barest spot on top, climbed over the thicker outer wall of vines and sunk down next to the tree.  My plan was to scare her out into their nets.

Her plan was to hold her ground against this one stupid interloper rather than face four people with nets and the three neighbors who were holding up a barrier we brought to keep her from fleeing into the adjacent swamp.  Why is it always cold when I have to chase bobcats through murky, muddy swamps?  Stay focused Carole.  She’s about three feet from my face.

I wriggle my way back up to almost standing, where I can hold a hand up as high as I can to be seen above the jasmine and point to where she’s tucked in so everyone can gather around that part of the ring.  Once I hear them move into place, I drop back down into the darkness.  I can only make out the silhouette of her ears and can almost feel the spit in my face with each threatening hiss.  I ask Michael to throw me a blanket I saw laying on a lawn chair so that if she does launch at me I have some way to secure her.

I can barely move.  I’m on my knees, leaning impossibly forward toward her, and only suspended by the vines.  The brush gets more dense and I can’t get any closer to her.  Jamie asks if I can touch her with something, but there is nothing down here to use.  Someone drops a snare pole down the hole I came in through and with a tremendous amount of struggle I am able to get it turned around and facing her with the looped end.  There is just no room to maneuver in here!  Touching her with the open end just made her madder and more determined to fight me and the pole.   Running from us didn’t seem to be an option in her mind.  God, I love bobcats!

It was probably only seconds, but it felt like a long time before I got the nerve up to slip the noose over her ears and start drawing it tighter.  I couldn’t see her, other than her ears, so I didn’t know if I had the slip knot around her throat, or maybe (hopefully) a front leg as she was swinging at me.  In 44 years of catching bobcats I’ve never use a snare pole.  I hate them.  I am so fearful of the cat strangling or breaking his neck in the wild thrashing that is sure to ensue.  This was the only option in this situation and now I had to close the loop tight enough to hold a cat I could barely see without killing her.  May The Force be with you rang in my head.

I pulled until it felt right to stop but there was no tension on the line that gave me a clue.  It was only The Force.  Jamie said to push the pole out toward them because they couldn’t get a net, or even gloved hands into the thick vines until the bobcat could be pushed out, clear of them.  The bobcat rolled onto her back, screaming at me and I took that as a good sign that she was getting enough oxygen, so I started pushing the pole out toward Jamie.

I couldn’t see what was happening, but when it sounded like they had her within the grasp of their nets and gloves, I wriggled backwards to find my iPhone which had been scraped from my pocket a while back.  Shaking, I opened the camera app, clawed my way back to the surface and held the phone over my head and pointed in the direction of the commotion to try and capture the transfer of the bobcat into the waiting carrier.  Once she was in, Victor released the snare (something I wasn’t sure any of us even knew how to do) and they closed the door on the very, very angry, scared bobcat.  I thanked God, the angels, The Force and every other variation for having guided my hands and those of our Big Cat Rescuers.  I knew it wasn’t my skill and thus not my glory.

I think this is the same bobcat we have been trying to catch since June 2020.  Above was the first video we got of a bobcat who appeared to either be suffering from a broken pelvis, or some neurological disease.  *FLM had first been noted in Florida panthers in 2019 but I don’t think any bobcat or FL panther had been caught alive with it, or lived more than a few hours after capture.  We didn’t catch her in 2020 but in Feb. 2021 we were called to the same location and did trap her.  She was strong enough in the front end to bust the door off our coyote trap and got away.  This bobcat was just 2.2 miles away and people in both communities had noted that everyone knew her, as she wasn’t terribly shy and was a good neighbor.  ie: not a pet killer.

I’ve been watching her on the Bobcat Hospital remote cameras.  She came in at a mere 6 lbs, 4 oz which is less than half of the 15-20 lbs she should weigh given her frame.  She’s eating like there’s no tomorrow and sleeps for 12+ hours at a time.  Watching her walk, fall over, collapse and then try again, makes me wonder how she lived this long.  People must have been feeding her.  I weep at her suffering.  I’m overjoyed that she’s here and hopefully we can figure out what is causing FLM and how to cure it.

*Feline leukomyelopathy (FLM), is a disorder which affects non-domestic cats. The disorder causes microscopic changes in the brain and spine, causing varying degrees of rear leg weakness and difficulty walking. The disorder was identified in panthers and bobcats in Florida in 2019.

We’ve been coordinating with the our vet, Dr. Boorstein and the FWC to do a spinal tap and other diagnostics on her as soon as she is stabilized.

Update 01/27/2022 Winter Bobcat sees the Vet

Its a GIRL! It was determined Winter is a female bobcat during her exam today. She has gained a pound since her rescue and weighs in at 7.8 pounds. She had blood work drawn, a spinal tap done by the FWC vet who attended, X-rays done and an overall exam.

So far her blood work is insignificant, we are still waiting on results.

FIV and FelV negative.

The Xray machine malfunctioned and was not producing full images but from what we saw nothing was abnormal.

She was flea treated and vaccinated for rabies and with FVRCP.

She will continue antibiotics and steroids.

Spinal tap was sent out with the FWC.

We will keep you updated as we know more.


We moved Winter Bobcat to Run #4 outside so that we can see better how she is walking.  She tries so hard to escape and climbs the walls inside, so at least when she falls outside, the landing will be softer.  These are her LIVE Nest webcams.  They aren’t very reliable due to our access to power and Internet there, so let us know if the cameras go down in the comments.

Update 2/16/2022

We may never have answers from Winter’s spinal fluid results.  She is the first LIVE animal with suspected FLM they have taken spinal fluid samples from so there is no data to compare them with. Nevertheless, having that data on Winter will now allow the FWC to have at least one live animal lab results in a data base to use in comparison when the next cat with this suspected disease is caught and labs taken from it.

Winter is on antibiotics and Prednisone. She is still wobbly in the back end,  is eating ok and is being monitored. She is on strict quarantine since we do not know what exactly is wrong with her.

Update 2/25/2022

From Jamie: Isn’t Winter beautiful? We are really hoping that medications will help her overcome whatever ailment is inflicting her. We have noticed a slight decrease in her head bobbing but she is still pretty wobbly in the back legs. We have not received any results from the spinal fluid sample. So right now we are just taking it day by day.

Winter bobcat rehab

Update 5/16/2022 by Jamie Veronica:

Winter has been determined to not be a candidate for release. Winter came to us in January of this year. She was extremely emaciated and had severe ataxia (wobbly when walking). Her symptoms appear to fit that of the neurological disorder afflicting Florida’s wildcats, Feline Leukomyelopothy or FLM. She has been under constant observation and treatment since her arrival and while she is now a healthy weight her ataxia persists. It is unknown how long a wildcat can live with this disorder as long as they are provided with food, water and shelter. Winter’s progress has become a valuable source of information in studying FLM. We are in constant contact with the FWC regarding updates on her health. She has undergone a spinal tap in the past in hopes of getting answers, yet results have not come as of yet. Testing for FLM is done by examining the spinal cord postmortem during necropsy. We may be sedating her again this week to do some more bloodwork. Winter will be kept comfortable and observed closely by rehabbers. She will remain a permanent resident due to her possibility of having FLM and will most likely remain in Rehab Enclosure 4 indefinitely.

Update 5/18/2022

Winter bobcat has a followup exam with Dr. Justin Boorstein and Dr. Hollis from the FWC.

Note from Jamie:

Winter has a follow up exam with Dr Justin and Dr H. New bloodwork was collected, a spinal tap was performed to collect spinal fluid for analysis and nasal and ocular swabs were collected for testing. We still believe that Winter has FLM, Feline Leukomyelopothy which is a mysterious neurological disorder afflicting Florida’s wildcats. We hope that these new samples will provide continued insight into her health and the progression of the disorder. During her exam we discovered significant laxity in her knees and her quadriceps were quite thickened and ridged. Meanwhile Winter has been weaned off of the steroids she has been on long term. We will continue to monitor her closely for changes. She does have some mobility issues in her rear legs, this ataxia originally responded to steoids and improved but over time she reverted back. We are now going to see if she continues to get worse off the steroids or maintains her current status. As always the cats come first and should Winter continue to decline we will help end her suffering. Until then we will continue to document her condition and progression in hopes to save furs wildcats. Winter is the longest lived bobcat in captivity with FLM. She has been with us since January. To my understanding their was only one other bobcat captured alive with FLM and it survived just a week.

Winter bobcat

Update 7/4/2022

Winter’s birthday enrichment.

Winter’s Birthday Enrichment

Update 7/6/2022

We are going to try one last ditch effort with Winter to make her more comfortable and hopefully improve her stability. If these meds do not make an improvement in her quality of life the vet team will be discussing euthanasia. If she improves we will be keeping her on meds indefinitely. Winter bobcat

Update 10/10/2022

Look who I found LOL!!! If you watched my LIVE this morning you know I attempted to show Miss Winter but with lawn mowing happening she just wasn’t having it! But it was a cleaning day for me in rehab so I had to find her and ta-da! Isn’t she beautiful?! And also amazing that even with her disabilities she was so good at hiding and getting away!

Update 1/22/2023

Join Lisa and Carole as Lisa sings to Winter bobcat for her 1 year rescue anniversary. Go to the 7 min, 50 second mark.

Singing to Winter

Update 1/23/2023

Winter bobcat became a permanent resident on May 16, 2022 due to suspected FLM. You can now sponsor her as a permanent resident. She is on daily medications to help keep her stable.

Wild bobcats come to Big Cat Rescue for two reasons:

Injuries such as having been hit by cars or disease, illness, birth defects.

Kittens that have been separated from their mothers or orphaned and are too young to survive in the wild.

Upon arrival, the cats receive a full exam and given whatever medical care is needed for their injuries or illness. Blood is drawn and tested for infectious diseases.  They are vaccinated, dewormed, and flea treated.

Injured cats are given the time and supportive care they need to heal.  They must prove they can hunt and survive before being released.  Our six rehab pens are 230 feet long by 20 feet wide giving the cats 4600 square feet of natural space to learn their skills.

When possible kittens are given a domestic surrogate mother.  When a surrogate is not available the kittens are bottle fed but weaned from the bottle as soon as possible.

They are then raised with as little human contact as possible and given opportunities to learn to hunt.

Winter Bobcat

Rehabbing and releasing bobcats is much more difficult than 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.

While we do bobcat rescue, rehab and release in Florida, we will not relocate bobcats as state law requires that they are 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/manager of the property.

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.

Update 11/16/2023

Winter was re-examined by Dr. Justin Boorstein because she’s unable to groom herself and has begun leaving food behind. While she has gained weight since arriving she is still just a little over 14 pounds, which is pretty small for a female bobcat. She was somewhat dehydrated and her colon was full of dry feces, making it hard to get a temperature on her. A battery of tests were run and another spinal tap has been sent out for evaluation. X-rays showed spondylosis of the spine, which could account for her not being able to groom her backside.

Jamie has been watching her via Nest cams and reports that she staggers, almost non stop, as she neurotically paces around her 2,200 square foot space. After her exam, we put her into our primary rehab cage, where there are better and more cameras, to gather more information on how she moves and how she spends her days.

Update December 27, 2023

𝐔𝐏𝐃𝐀𝐓𝐄 𝐎𝐍 𝐖𝐈𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐁𝐎𝐁𝐂𝐀𝐓 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐉𝐀𝐌𝐈𝐄: Winter is remaining at Big Cat Rescue for the time being.

Winter was recently sedated for an exam where follow up blood and spinal fluid samples were taken. During the exam the vet team also noted that she had developed mats at the base of her tail. X-rays did not show any cause for the lack of mobility in her spine. Current video captured of her indicates she has lost a significant amount of mobility throughout her spine. When she walks her spine from behind her forearms all the way to her hips is completely rigid. There is no flex in it as she moves which leads us to believe this rigidity is the cause for her inability to properly groom herself. Meanwhile all her test results came back with no notable difference from when she was first examined.

Upon returning from transporting the final load of cats to TCWR we will focus on observing her much more closely in person and by using camera traps to determine the extent of her decrease in quality of life. Obviously she has had a decreased quality of life since her arrival with her mobility impairments. That coupled with being unable to properly groom is definitely a decline in her overall comfort (cats are fastidious when it comes to cleanliness). Her case is a tough one as we typically decide quality of life by whether or not the cat has an appetite and is eating enough to sustain themselves. Sadly this factor may not play a role in the decision making process due to her other impairments. On top of it all wild cats are notorious for hiding pain and we have no idea if Winter is in pain due to her condition and if so what that pain level may be. There are definitely a lot of things to consider and we want to make sure to make the best decision for Winter that we can.

We will keep everyone up to date as we have more information.

In this video clip you can see the rigidity in her spine as she walks by.

Winter bobcat Update, January 19, 2024

A couple of weeks ago we updated you on Winter the bobcat and her current situation. We have been continuing to monitor her since then. What does ‘continuing to monitor her’ mean? It means reviewing footage of her 8 cameras each and every day to see; how is she walking, if her walking is getting worse, is she resting comfortably, does she still seem curious and playful, is she eating well and does she seem stressed?

Prior to our last update most of her cams were not recording. As Google has taken over Nest we were unable to update any of the cameras in cage 1 to record her without merging to the new platform. Upon returning from our last trip to Arkansas Victor and I switched over our Nest cams to the Google Home platform. In doing so we were now able to turn recording on for all of her cams. (Some cams are shared publicly while others are not.)

I know a lot of you hope that Winter will get better, but sadly this will not happen. We have exhausted all tests, treatments and medications to improve her condition with no real success. At this point we are tasked with determining if her good moments outweigh her bad moments. It is in our nature to hope for the best and wish for a miracle, but in reality Winter has a degenerative disorder that is causing muscle loss and rigidity that will continue to worsen.

In the few weeks that I have been reviewing her footage I have noticed a couple of changes in the past few days that are concerning. 

– Her mobility has been decreasing to the point she is tripped up much more easily even falling to her side. This is happening when no one is around which is worrisome. Normally when we are not in the area she has been walking quite well (for her).

– She is not as engaged with enrichment. If you look back at some of the camera trap videos of Winter she was very playful with her enrichment. She would spend a great portion of her night revisiting the enrichment to play. While she has interacted with some of her enrichment recently it was in very brief sessions and often derailed by falling over or seeming frustrated with instability. 

Lastly I have seen numerous comments of concern for Winter being lonely. I want to reassure everyone that her daily life has not changed in any way. She has always lived in the rehab area of the sanctuary. She never saw any of the normal day to day action of the staff and volunteers. She was also housed in the enclosure furthest from any other rehab bobcats. Her normal day is having one or two keepers visit the area once a day to clean her water bowls and feed her. This work is normally completed in less than 5 minutes (20 minutes if it’s a cleaning day). She is still being cared for exactly the same, so to her, nothing has changed.  If anything she is getting more time from her keepers. Victor and I were the rehabbers that did all of the enclosure maintenance and we only cared for her once a week. Now that we are taking care of her every day we tinker with and maintain the enclosure more often.  She also has the advantage of visiting wildlife. Because she is housed in an area of the sanctuary that got almost no foot traffic there is abundant wildlife.  From her enclosure she watches squirrels and small birds foraging in the forest line and bunnies coming out to eat the field grass in the morning. In the evening the area is frequented by possums, raccoons, and even a native bobcat. Bobcats are solitary.  Winter was born in the wild and has been cared for with minimal human interaction in our rehab area. It is her natural instinct to want to be alone and she seems quite content with that aspect of her life.

Thank you all for caring so much about Winter. Our top priority is making sure she is happy and well cared for. While there is no clear “update” at least you now hopefully understand the process. We will continue to care for her and monitor her until her bad moments out weigh the good ones. ~Jamie Veronica

January 31, 2024 Update

Today our warrior princess, Winter bobcat crossed the rainbow bridge after struggling with suspected Feline Leukomyelopathy (FLM) since she was rescued in January 2022.

We have been monitoring her 8 cameras daily over the past month observing her mobility and overall quality of life. Aside from her general loss of interest in enrichment and her coolaroo beds (two of her most favorite things), Winter’s mobility was deteriorating rapidly. Winter has always had mobility issues, but in the past week those impairments worsened to the point she started losing her balance and falling over onto her side. Her rear legs had also become more rigid making it difficult for her to walk and easily sit or lay down but rather plop down uncontrollably. This lack of control over her own body was definitely stressful to her and heartbreaking to watch unfold.

We always knew this day would come and we did not want Winter to suffer so the decision was made to humanely euthanize her. FWC was onsite and after we said our goodbyes her body was taken to the state lab for a necropsy and FLM testing.

We are all thankful to Jamie, Dr. Justin Boorstein, the rehab team and the FWC for giving Winter the best life she could possibly have given her disabilities from this debilitating neurological disease.

While we are all saddened by her passing, we are hopeful her life and death will help answer some of the questions about FLM that have remained unanswered since this disease was first discovered in Florida panthers and bobcats in the spring of 2017.

See how Big Cat Rescue has been involved in helping the FWC in research of this disease at (see video in that link).

Thank you to the rehab team for providing the best of care to Winter every single day since her rescue and to all those who watched her cameras daily and supported her care since she arrived.

She will truly be missed but her life was not lived in vain as hopefully more can be learned about this devastating disease that is affecting wildlife in Florida from her life and even in her death.

Run free and healthy Winter and thank you for all you did for Florida big cats in your life. You will always be remembered.

You may leave your tributes here or on her bio page at, where you can also find out more about her life and struggles over the last two years.

Find out more about FLM at

Winter bobcat

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  1. My dear Miss Winter. I’m sorry it took me so long to write you a few lines. But I had to get a little distance first. Now you’re a star in the sky and you’ve got your wings. You took a big piece of my heart with you and it hurts. Even though it hurts, I know that you can now run and play in a beautiful meadow with all the other bobcats without illness or pain and without a cage. You were an inspiration and warrior to many. You never gave up. If you fell, you got up again and continued on. You were curious about your surroundings and even played with squirrels. You enjoyed your life as much as you could. You were a part of my life and I thank you for that. I will never forget you. The BCR employees and Dr. To Justin, thank you for all you have done for Miss Winter.

  2. She was very touching..
    Maybe azlocillin antibiotic could have helped her (against spirochetes)

    — Thank you for all the support —

  3. Sweet Winter, run pain free now in Paradise. I am so thankful that for your last years you were safe, loved and enjoyed your enrichment, inncluding your own song from Lisa. Your story and courageous fight may help many wild bobcats in the future. Thank you.

  4. RIP precious Fur Baby.
    Thank you so much for all the care of Winter. I know you tried everything.
    You will be missed.😿❤️🐾🌈

  5. Winter was a beautiful bobcat … I’m so sorry for your loss but she will go on and help more cats in the future 😿 thank you all for taking such good care of her

  6. Are you familiar with the Assisi Loop? If you know about world-famous little cat Lil BUB, you’ll know that she benefitted greatly from it. Not sure whether or not this would help Winter bobcat, who looks a trifle stronger and more stable to me in this video. But it might be worth checking out if you haven’t already?

  7. It looks like the keeper may have forgotten to open the door for winter to get her food. She keeps coming back & just sitting by the entry

  8. Hello! I just wanted to let you know that only 1 of Winter’s cameras is working (Run 4 Small Right is working).
    Thank you for all the care you give to her and the other bobcats! You are wonderful!

  9. Karin, Yes I realized that the next morning when I saw the smashed paper enrichment next to her den. So funny that Winter enjoys her paper enrichment.

    1. You can find Winter’s story and why she is wobbly at She is monitored several times daily by her keepers.

    2. Chris what you saw must be Miss Winter having fun with the Paper treated with catnip or valerian . A bit stiff and awkward but she enjoys this change too.

  10. Brittany just gave an update on Winter that she now has access to all of her enclosure & how Winter is doing. That explains why I’m not seeing Winter on her evening walks anymore. Thanks Brittany for the update & I love your live walkabout videos.

    1. Hello. I have wondered how Winter is doing with the new meds. I have asked this a few times, but I guess I am not asking the right people. I haven’t seen too many lives either. Thank you

  11. I wonder if the new meds may be making Winter’s mobility worse. She doesn’t do her evening walks anymore & doesn’t watch Orpheus bobcat. Is there anything else you can do for her? Her will to live is so strong & she has fought so hard.

  12. I just watched Winter play with that new ball toy you put in her enclosure. She even laid on the ground kicking it with her back legs. This was amazing to see Winter play like this & it brought tears to my eyes. It was on the small right live cam on 7-12-22 shortly after 7pm if you want to try & find it. Thank you for all you do for these very special cats.

  13. Winter looks like she is doing so so much better, I would love to see an update video with her. Watching her on the live cams it looks like she is walking smoothly!

    1. The rehabs are fed daily and Winter is fed twice daily. Usually about 8 am and 5 pm, give or take a little bit.

  14. Hi any updates on the bobcat Winter? Was FLM a confirmed diagnosis? I was checking in on her live webcam until it was no longer available.

    1. None of her labs have proven useful, but that’s been par for the course with this disease. She’s moved into outdoor run #4 and we installed a bunch of Nest cams, but they are having connectivity issues.

      1. I am so sad to hear about winters passing I kept hoping and praying that she would be ok for her under those circumstances. I know you all took the best care of her possible. She was a beautiful girl and will never be forgotten. I love you winter

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