Well, followers, many of you are fans on our facebook page…you just come here for the more in-depth scoop of the goings on here at the ranch, huh? Well, we have some very exciting events happening right now, and we could not be more pleased, and sad, and thrilled, and humbled all at the same time!
We rehabbers could be described as a buffer between the natural (and in my opinion “real”) world and the ever advancing industrialized consuming machine that is modern human “culture”. We are celebrators and worshipers of nature, and the amazing things it provides and creates. We are the wild ones, the ones that cannot exist without nature, and find the thought of the absence of nature devastating. We speak for and defend the voiceless ones.
We could never imagine being able to counter-balance our top-heavy world-wide carrying capacity, but instead strive to soften the impact, ever so slightly. Every life we touch, every person we impact, every animal we hold in our hands, is one more chance to do something amazing and good. Ultimately, our goal is to educate humanity of the importance of moderation, stewardship, and responsibility. Our goal is to bolster the wild creatures and ensure their footing in our future world.
Ultimately, our deepest desire is to share these stories with the world, and return these creatures to the wild world where they belong, and where they fit most perfectly. Often, we are successful. Often, we see our goals come to fruition. Sometimes…well, sometimes we end up with beings like Cheeze. Sometimes, these guys just get too missguided through misinformed human intervention to remember how to fit back into their perfect wild world. This, my friends, this is one of the bitter sweet moments in our calling. This is where we mourn for individuals like Quincey (his story can be seen as an earlier entry here on our official blog) who must now spend their days in human captivity rather than fulfilling their destiny as one of the wild ones; uninhibited and free.
Just like we as a species have always sought the silver lining in every dreary cloud, we rehabbers have perfected the art of “plan B”. This bitterness does not come without sweet moments when we realized that though this may not have been Mother Nature’s plan, all is not lost. It now becomes our duty to ensure that this wild one’s life is not without meaning or purpose. We take these unique individuals, and we find a world that fits them.
In the process, we are presented with a very unique situation that carries with it the utmost gravity. This creature, this very special, perfectly designed creature now takes on the position of a teacher. He may not know the gravity associated with his newly created position in life, and even those that come to see and marvel at his beauty may not know (at least in their conscious mind) how important this one, singular creature has become.
This one marvel, this one amazing creation represents hundreds and thousands more of his kind (and others) that are battling for survival…fighting, struggling, defending their right to exist. People may come in the hundreds to get just a glimpse of this elusive, magnificent creature…hundreds more may completely ignore him. But it just takes one. One person to be impacted by the mere presence of the creature in front of them…just one person who’s imagination was lit afire, who’s heart awakened and realized what this singular creature stands for…what nature has been screaming, crying, and trying to tell him through the eons.
Humans are not a separate existence from the earth. Without our earth, we do not exist. Each plant, each animal, each microbial existence in the soil beneath our feet is essential to the well-being of our earth. Our home.
Crosstimbers is absolutely honored to have a part to play in impacting that one person. Today, as of this writing, three of our most memorable cats are headed to new homes. New lives, and new responsibilities of the utmost importance. Today, Crosstimbers wishes safe journeys and wonderful new lives to our three ambassador graduates. We want to share and savor this new beginning with each and every one of our fans and followers.
Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda graduated from Crosstimbers today, and are now on their way to new lives as teachers…All three of these wonderful kitties are headed to the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
All of the staff members here at Crosstimbers are so excited for these guys. They have all been wonderful teachers to us here, and now go on to continue their work impacting hundreds more in their wonderful new home. Good luck, and safe journey Cheeze, Ollie, and Yoda!
Did we spell it wrong? No, Cheeze was originally a “Q” in the alphabet, so he was initially named “Queso”. He was such a unique cat and his name just didn’t fit him. He was so funny and such a ham, that the name “Cheese” seemed to fit him better and it eventually evolved to “Cheeze”.
Cheeze has a sad, but certainly not uncommon story. He came to us from another rehabilitator in the Houston area. This particular rehabber, athough very talented with a multitude of wild species, and who has a stellar reputation received Cheeze as a single kit. She did not know we existed and did not know how incredibly hard it is to raise bobcats to be returned to the wild.
Almost any rehabber who has made this mistake will only make it once. Cheeze grew up somewhere between imprinted and having wild instinct. She handled him just enough for him to like being around humans, but not enough to make him “handle-able”. Not having any previous experience with this species, and with no access to anyone who truly specializes in working with bobcats, this rehabber made the all too common mistake of releasing Cheeze WAY before he was ready. At just six months of age, Cheeze just did not have the emotional fortitude or experience to survive on his own.
Bobcats, in the wild, stay with their mothers until they are at least 10 months of age. When they go through rehabilitation, a rehabber must commit to care for these animals for a minimum of one year, because until then, they are emotionally just little kittens. They do not know how to care for themselves, but more importantly, they do not have the emotional capability to do much more than chase and play with anything that moves. Learning that it must hunt and kill things to survive does not occur to them until they are at least a year of age.
This rehabber felt they were doing the right thing. Not knowing of anyone else in the United States that works with this species, the rehabber decide to release Cheeze on their private property. He stuck around. Played outside, ran to find people when he saw them, and ultimately, when he could not feed himself, turned his frustration, hunger, and aggression towards people. People had always been his food providers. He could not understand why they were not bringing him the things he needed to survive.
We agreed to take Cheeze in, knowing that he had severe behavioral issues, and knowing that there was a good chance of injury to one of our many skilled handlers, however, we understood that it was no flaw of his that prompted his aggressive behavior. He was acting the way he had been “programmed” to act, and for that, we could not fault him. What we have learned about bobcats is that when imprinted, they want to please, they just don’t always know how.
Cheese was one of our toughest cases. He was highly food aggressive and would startle easily. All trust for humans was gone. However, since bobcats have an intrinsic desire to want to please, Cheeze set about trying to build trust, and after several years of love and dedication, he is a happy, healthy, respectful young man who has just been put on to our adoption list and is scheduled to go to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. in mid-January.
It is our greatest joy to know that an animal as beautiful as Cheeze will live a long and happy life being an ambassador to the world in one of the finest educational facilities in our country!
Bridgette came to us in 2008. Her family surrendered their “pet” to us at four months of age. Once they discovered that wild animals can act aggressive at a drop of a hat, especially with those who are not trained in animal behavior, they made the decision to bring her to a facility that would understand her, and give her appropriate care and interaction.
Although Bridgette is a very sweet cat, like all bobs, she can throw a fit like nobody’s business. She was a funny kitten who had us laughing all the time. She could eat more food than any adult on the property. She would literally gorge herself until she was miserable.
These pictures were taken one night after she had finished dinner. It was a night that I will never forget. It was almost like she ate herself drunk! This was a progression of pictures over about 30 minutes. She was watching me from a chair while I worked on my computer. When I got up, she moved to my chair and made herself at home.
In 2010, Bridgette contracted viral encephalitis; a pathogen transmitted by mosquito bites. This aggressive disease can have lasting effects. In Bridgette’s case, this resulted in some neurological swelling and though the damage to her brain was not severe, she will always have some lasting effects. Most notably, the small circles she walks when she is out of her comfort zone.
We try to protect all of our animals from diseases like encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other insect borne diseases, but they still slip through on us. Sadly, Animal facilities will not adopt an animal with any outward damage because visitors are constantly notifying staff of the cat’s “health issue’. Although Bridgette does not have a future with a zoo or other wildlife facility, she does have a permanent home with us. Most facilities would be required to euthanize her because she cannot be adopted and cannot be released to the wild. Lucky for Bridgette, she has a great future here at WCCR.
By making her part of our surrogacy program (being a cage-mate to multiple cats), she has a valuable place with us for the rest of her life. Should a suitable home ever come along for her, she would be considered for another location, but it would have to be the right facility with the right handlers as she is a special needs cat.
She is bonded to only a very few of the staff who spend time with her. She takes a while to get to know, and to understand, but once she trusts you, it is an unbreakable bond as anyone who works with her will attest to.
Bridgette is a healthy non-aggressive girl and a wonderful cage-mate for most any new cat. She suffers from Flea allergies, so we have to take extra precautions during flea season. She gets along with almost everyone, which is unusual, so her job here is to help acclimate new cats to their cages, getting them used to living with new cats and making their transition to new zoos who already have another bobcat in their enclosure much more tolerable.
Bridgette is a dual purpose kitty here at WCCR! She is one of a handful of our cats that are a part of our research program. She is one of three “vocalizers” that we have on-site at the moment.
A vocalizer is one of the seven personalities that we have identified who have a tendency to “talk” about everything. Our other vocalizers, all of whom you will meet in the near future, are Zachia and Peter.
Over the last couple of years, WCCR and NBRR have grown to an incredible size. We now have more cats on the property than ever before, and the numbers keep growing! We have great people working with us, but need sponsors to help us with funding so that we may keep pace with the demand, and continue to grow!
If you would like to help care for Bridgette, please visit our website and make a donation today! We cannot do this alone. We are seeking individuals to sponsor each of our cats with a monthly donation! It is imperative for us to move in this direction if we are to continue to provide for special needs cats just like Bridgette, and the many others that currently call our facility home! ANY amount helps! For us to continue to take these wonderful cats in, we MUST find sponsors and support. Are you our next one? Keep watching for updates on even more Crosstimbers Cats!
Meet Brave Braelyn. This tough girl has been through alot, and still has a long way to go! We need your help to help her!
Braelyn is our most recent intake. She is VERY sick. She came to us about a week ago from a ranch where they have been “removing all big cats from the property”. We hate to hear things like this, because Bobcats should never be considered “Big Cats”, at least not down here in Texas. Out bobcat species “Texensis” doesn’t get much bigger than a standard house cat. (22-26lbs)
For such a young kitten, Braelyn has had a tough life. It is very clear to us that her mother was either killed or trapped and taken away. We know that there is another kit out there that the landowners are now trying to trap so that they may be reunited. As previously mentioned in our preface, bobkittens stay with their mothers until they are at least 10 months old. When their mothers are trapped and taken away, they must fight to survive. Braelyn has clearly had more than a few battles. She came to us with her poor nose nearly missing and several deep lacerations on her little body. She is only about 16 weeks old. Who she has been battling with remains to be seen, but who/whatever it was, it was much bigger than she was. She is grossly underweight, so has, obviously, struggled to find food and we pray that we can find her sibling before it is too late.
Her lacerations had become infected and she was very weak when she first arrived. But there is good news! As of two days ago, she had regained enough strength to crawl up into her hammock which hangs from the top of her ICU enclosure! She had previously been unable to get up off of the floor. She has been eating well and gaining weight every day. We continue to hope that Santa Paws will help us to find her sibling, but without further funding, we cannot hire someone to go out and assist the landowners in trying to capture it and get them back together. If you can help, please go to our website or use the link on the side column of this blog, and donate today to help Braelyn get back on her feet and help us to hire one someone to help put what is left of their family back together.
Braelyn’s future is still uncertain, but we continue with positive thinking, her undying wild spirit gives us high hopes for her to be released back to the wild sometime mid-summer next year.
However, this special girl will need a lot of expensive intensive care in the weeks and months to come if she is going to make it.
She will be paired up with others of her age once back on her feet. If her sibling joins us, they will remain together for the rest of their time here at the ranch and be released together back to the wild where they belong and on a property where they will never have to worry about being trapped, hunted or displaced. All our kitties want for christmas is somewhere safe to call home. Will you help them?
Happy Holidays Wildlife Friends!
Now, Don’t fall over in shock, but this is Val. As most of you know, Dawn started our Facebook page years ago, and thankfully, Kari picked up where she left off and expanded our page to include a blog. As much as I would love to be entrenched in social media, I have neither the time, nor the know-how. However, I have been overwhelmed by the Christmas Spirit this year and wanted to make a special effort to take the time to give you the updates you have been asking for! And, because the Christmas spirit has grabbed a hold of me, I am going to take it a step further and give you a gift! From now until the end of the month, I am going to give you a short bio on ALL of the cats that are currently in care at the center! And, I would like to ask all of you to add your stories, comments and experiences, if you have any, with each of the cats or at the ranch, as they are discussed. There is a reason for this.
WCCR & NBRR have grown in leaps and bounds. Because most of our friends are not local, most have no idea what is going on out here. We want you to know, and to SHARE with others, the GREAT work we are doing. We also want to give you updates on the new outreach and policies we have set in place. First, and most important, NBRR decided, two years ago, to branch out from native wildlife and begin accepting confiscated or unwanted (turned over) imprinted Bobcats. We quickly became the largest bobcat rescue in the United States. We are now proud to announce that we have been asked to be the first bobcat rescue to be utilized by the AZA and to be listed in their studbook! The AZA studbook is where AZA accredited Zoos and Aquariums turn to find breeders to supply their facilities with replacement animals. This is VERY exciting because, due to our rapidly growing national reputation, they contacted us! We will now be able to accept, train, and supply imprinted bobcats that might otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space in exotic feline rescues. Of course, many of these cats come to us with severe behavioral problems. Our behavior specialists are some of the finest in the country! Special Kudos to Kari and Deborah for their exceptional work and dedication to these very special cats!
So, where to start? My goodness! Alphabetically, I presume, would make the most sense. Since we began this new program, cats have poured in, so you will get to hear stories about bobcats that you have never been introduced to before! And, because we have more cats than we have days left in the month, we will have to double up on most days and give you one in the morning and one in the evening! Yes, We’re THAT busy! Unfortunately, that means a HUGE burden on our dwindling funds!
Since we know that you didn’t know, we are hoping that you will share these stories with everyone in hopes that we find enough donations to pull us through another (exceptionally busy!) winter.
We hope that if you read a story that you enjoy, or that touches your heart, that you will cross-post it so that we can increase our friend base and hopefully find some corporate and/or private sponsors that we still so desperately need.
It is important to note that our first love continues to be the thousands of native wild animals, including wild bobcats, who come to us for help each year.
The imprinted cats are entrusted to our care and are donated by us to other non-profit educational facilities. Our work here is critically important to the future understanding of the increasing population of urban bobcats and we continue to operate on a completely volunteer staff. We cannot do this alone. Please remember these beautiful animals during this holiday season and throughout the year because the next well adjusted and happy bobcat you see in a zoo throughout the United States may be from The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch.
God Bless you all and Happiest of holidays from all of us at Crosstimbers!
A preface to our introductions. Bobcats come and bobcats go around here. Some stay for a few weeks, some stay for years. Much depends of their ability to be released back to the wild, whether they have medical or behavioral problems, whether those problems are temporary or permanent, and how old they are when they arrive. Each cat is given an identifying name. We start alphabetically each year. When we reach “Z”, we begin again. Any bobkitten brought to us who has not already been imprinted is slated to be returned to the wild after it has reached one year of age; adults and juveniles who are not imprinted must also be at least one year old before they are released back to the wild.
The reason for this is because in the wild, they will stay with their mother until they’re at least 10 months old and, literally remain kittens, emotionally, until they are at least one year old. In an urban environment, they will stay with their families even longer, sometimes for life! Should we try to release them prior to one year old, they do not thrive and often end up being returned to us by some unsuspecting stranger who found a starving bobcat on his property. Though the years, we have leaned to avoid this by making SURE that our cats are emotionally ready to be out on their own.
We strive to ensure success as a “rewilded” animal for every creature that comes through our doors. But most, especially our beloved bobcats, are incredibly intelligent; and we must diligently strive to ensure that we do not damage their wild potential by allowing an overabundance of human interaction in their space.
Our work has led us to discover, so far, seven different personality types in bobcats. Each is as distinguishable as day and night. Some personality types are more easily imprinted than others. It is with those that we must be the most careful. Others want nothing more than to be wild from the day they arrive to the day we watch them run across an open pasture to live their wild lives. There is nothing more gratifying than to release a cat back to the wild, yet, many can never go back. Why?
To answer this question, we must revisit the issue of the level of intelligence that these incredible cats posses. These cats could easily survive in the wild, yet, they are so smart, that one they have become imprinted, they recognize where food comes from. Many of them seek affection. When an imprinted cat is released, it will seek out humans and approach them. This ends up badly in 99% of these cases. They are often shot or trapped and euthanized because they are “acting strangely”. A few of them make it to us. Generally, they are the ones who have collars on and have escaped from a home. The percentage rate of an imprinted cat, as best we can figure, is only about 5%, and that is ONLY if the cat is release onto a private protected property where there are no hunters or humans to ruin their chances. Therefore, with the imprinted cats, we work closely with them to be very sure that they will be happy in a facility where they can be a liaison for their wild brothers and sisters. As we introduce you to our current cats in care, we want you to clearly understand that our main goal is to return them to the wild, and that when that is not possible, the next best thing is to ensure a happy life with handlers who will give each cat what it needs to live a long and happy life with people who love, respect and care about these beautiful animals. We are always happy to answer questions from anyone, so please, if you have any, let us know. We always want the best for our charges, and when the obvious best is not attainable, then we seek the best available. We hope you will enjoy reading about our work and support us in any way you can!
Angel~Face (and XYZ)
Each year, we struggle with naming certain alphabet letters – and this year is NO different. We will start out our alphabetical stories with “Angel-Face” who was named after she arrived with her two brothers and one sister. Angel-Face was EASY to name. As often happens, she became highly stressed when she first arrived, quit eating, and became very sick. She lost a lot of weight, so we had to pull her away from her family to get her back on her feet. While she was separated, we named her Angel-face because she was SO curious about everything we did. She would hide in her cat box, peek over the edge and would get the sweetest look on her face when we confused her by doing our “Human things”. We ultimately cave her a cat box full of blankies that she could hide in while sneaking a peek at our antics. She remained separated for about three weeks while she gained weight and her strength back. Her brothers and sister were dubbed “X, Y & Z”. They are STILL named X, Y & Z! They are strong and sassy! They talk and play constantly, but the MINUTE they see a human, they all run for cover into the nearest crate or box. We are hoping for your help! Will you all PLEASE help us name these other kitties? Please post your ideas below. Human baby names have all already been used, so we want to ask you to make up unique names, for example, last year’s X, Y & Z were named Xylan, Yoda, & Zachia. So be creative! We need your help!
Angel-face and her siblings are expected to be released into the wild in late summer next year. They are as wild as they come! They are all four living together again and are getting ready to be moved outside to the wild barn. Out kittens stay inside until they reach about 5 months of age. Until then, we must keep a VERY close eye on them because they can become very sick VERY fast. The stress of capture, of living without their mothers, of being in unnatural conditions, and of eating unfamiliar diets can cause a multitude of problems. The little ones are always a challenge, so we keep a very close eye on them
These little ones arrived when they were only 5 weeks old. I am afraid that we do not have many pictures of them as we wanted them to stay wild and therefore did not/do not approach them very often. I took this picture the other day while hiding behind the couch. You can see that they are all very bonded and will, likely, stay together long after they are released.
Their mother was trapped and relocated before anyone realized that she had babies. At about 4 weeks of age, and barely walking, the little ones started peeking out of their den, one at a time, looking for their mommy. They were hungry and frightened. They were caught and brought to us over a period of several days. All are finally doing really well. There really isn’t much more to say about these guys except that they are all doing as expected and staying on track to be released, growing like weeds and staying wild! This is our only large litter, so will be the only time you will get an update on multiple cats at one time. Don’t forget to help us name X,Y & Z!
The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch has received a very special guest that urgently needs your help. His name is Ulyses, and he is only ten weeks old. He has been separated from his mother and siblings, and the poor little guy has suffered some serious trauma in his short life.
Ulyses is a bobcat, and he already has a special place in the hearts of all of the staff members here at WCCR. You see, at this tender age, he has had a little altercation with a dog…that resulted in a compound fracture of his leg, and massive infection. This poor little wild one is terrified and alone, and he can’t even yet have a buddy to comfort him. For now, until his condition improves a bit, his stuffed animal is his closest companion.
The thought of this poor little guy terrified and hurting tugs at my heartstrings every time. Especially when all we can do is sit back, and support him on his journey :(
Here at Crosstimbers, we do 90% of our medical treatment on site.
There are many reasons for this that I may go into in some future blog, but for right now, my main focus is to help this little one return to the wild. But in order to do that, I am going to have to solicit some help! To rehab a single (healthy) bobcat from kitten to release, costs more than $2,000 and over 12 months in feeding and maintenance alone. Any medical treatment or other operational care all comes at additional expense.
For Ulyses, the cost will probably be more than double that figure.
His tiny leg will be set in his heart emblazoned cast for at least the next six weeks, and he will need some heavy-duty antibiotics (as well as other medications) to battle the massive infection.
Supportive care will also include a special immune system supporting diet and eventually, physical therapy.
Little Ulyses had to be sedated for this procedure, so once his cast was secured, he was placed in isolation to recover from anaesthesia.
His ongoing care, rehabilitation, and physical therapy are going to be major hurdles for WCCR this year. The economy has put a squeeze on us all, and we are definitely feeling it. We are trying to raise $500 towards his ongoing care, and every cent helps.
If every person who read this blog donated just ten dollars, that total sum would mean a massive step towards going back to the wild for this amazing cat! Every bit helps! If you want to be a wildlife hero, click on that donate button on the right hand column! I know we can do this. Lets get Ulyses back to the wild, together!
Today, we made bobcat history! For the first time ever, we did an educational presentation, with a live bobcat! Two to be precise. Including our dear Theo. He did WONDERFUL! We are all so proud of him!
NBRR has put together a fantastic presentation on rural vs. urban bobcats, and we are working on integrating an element that anchors the presentation in reality by having a live education bobcat. The Master Naturalists Group asked us to present.
Theo was very good through the whole presentation, and was a real show stopper afterwards. He really helped bring the North American Bobcat to the forefront of people’s minds. The information that Valeri presented is stuff that has never been studied before. Just like the Murphy, Tx meeting. We had some wonderful questions.
Theo kept the energy flowing through tactile and visual experiences that reinforced the information in the presentation. Our little education hopeful is well on his way to becoming a fantastic presentation animal.
Theo may be on his way to changing how we as a society handles and associated with our native wildlife. What an amazing little guy! We hope that he and our other educational hopefuls will continue to be an ambasador for his species, and help to change people’s perceptions.
Apparently not! After a long bout of silence, we are again getting calls on baby bobs! Two from Plano, and a confiscation from Houston. His name is Peter, he is 4 months, and severely imprinted. At this age, the chances of reversing the imprint is not very good. Crosstimbers sees lots of bobcats every year. Many of them come in imprinted. This means they are accustom to, and even enjoy human interactions. If you have been following this blog, you know how dangerous that is for a predator which the public perceives as dangerous or aggressive.
It is all about public perceptions, and has precious little to do with the actual animal. Every year, a few imprinted bobcats end up at Crosstimbers. often, they are young; young enough to still have a chance at becoming wild again. Bobcats are wild animals, and they are wired to stay that way. However, they are also social. A wild animal hard wired to be a wild animal in a captive environment is not a good combination. The most dangerous animals we work with are the ones raised by people.
That is not to say that Peter is dangerous per se, but he has been played with in a very rough manner. He is accustomed to scratching and biting in play like a house cat…the difference is, Peter is going to be around 20+ pounds. That means we are going to have to do some major work with him. At Crosstimbers, we allow the cat to tell us when it is ready to be wild again. Some day, Peter may surprise us, and show us that he is ready. We shall see :)
The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch is in a unique position to conduct research on a species that very little is known about. Yes, you can find out all kinds of information about bobcats. Just take a look on the internet. Use any browser you fancy. There will be plenty of web pages on the bobcat, but they will all basically be the same one or two page information sheet on “felis rufus” or “lynx rufus”.
The difference is, WCCR sees 60-70 bobcats annually. Many of them come in very young, often their eyes are not even opened. They also come in as litters, singles, and older cubs as well as adults. It gives us a wonderful perspective and insight into their personalities, habits, and social structures. The best way to learn more about a species is to observe large numbers of individuals of the species. WCCR is using our unique position as an opportunity to do exactly that.
One of the things we are supremely interested in is the social structure of bobcats. So far, we have found that rural bobcats act extremely different from urban bobcats. Not only this, but that these cats express far different behavior than one might expect. For example, Pixie and Quincey. Both of these cats are hopefuls for an education program. Pixie, a young female kit and Quincey a nearly two year old male entering into sexual maturity.
I caught Pix and Quinc in one of their regular grooming sessions. Pixie and Quincey spend their time cuddling and playing. Quincey mothers and loves on Pixie as if he was her daddy. He grooms her, removes fleas, and makes sure she is squeaky clean.
You can’t tell from this series of pictures, but Pixie is currently about half Quincey’s size. One might expect a young male coming into sexual maturity to be unkind or even aggressive to a young kit like Pixie, but years of observing and recording activities just like this one has shown the staff here at WCCR that this just isn’t the case. There is still so much that we do not know about these amazing and elusive animals. Who would have guessed that an adult male would be so nurturing with a cub that isn’t even his? The bobcat is not an aggressive animal, and certainly not one to be vilified or feared.
Durring this photo session, Pixie actually laid her head down, and closed her eyes. You can see the bond these two share just from these pictures. These guys are so emotional, and form such strong bonds with one another, and with us. It is pretty incredible that an animal considered fairly solitary by most common knowledge is so emotionally connected to other members of its species.
These cats fill a wonderful nitch in our urban and rural ecosystems, controlling populations of pest animals like rats, mice, and snakes. Yes, they will go after a cute bunny or a squirrel or quail, but rarely will they ever go after anything larger than that. When they do go after larger prey, it is out of desperation. Usually caused by being relocated, and therefore starvation due to lack of familiarity with the area. Bobcats stay within their home range their entire lives, and so relocating them causes them to struggle until they can become familiar with their new surroundings. Of course, there are other factors that would come into play in these and other scenarios.
The point is, there is little protection for an animal that we know incredibly little about. When is it time to take action? When humanity creates a rarity out of such a wide-spread animal that we do not know if we can bring it back from the brink? How are we to learn more about this animal if we don’t protect them?
Tonight, several groups got together at Murphy, Tx City Hall. In-Sync Exotics, the Holifield Science Learning center, and of course, yours truly. The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch/National Bobcat Rescue and Research foundation. The DFW Wildlife Coalition was supposed to be represented, as were a few other groups who were unable to attend.
It was a great meeting. Valeri gave a great informative presentation on bobcats, and the attendees were really interested, and asked some really great questions!
We got some really great information out there tonight! Thank you for all of the wonderful people who attended, and all the really great questions about one of our favorite animals! The more we can change the incorrect perceptions about the North American Bobcat and other similar species, the more positive change we can make in our world!
I feel very positive about this meeting, and I am so glad that the City of Murphy hosted this really wonderful discussion. Thank you, City of Murphy! Keep up the great work! The only way to change how bobcats (and any other wildlife) are handled is to inform people, citizens and law enforcement alike, about the options out there. Not only that, but to arm people with accurate information on this animal’s behavior, habitat, and activities, and the importance of acceptance of not only prey animals, but predators as well to maintain a natural balance, even in our urban environments. Removing wildlife from it’s natural habitat is not the solution.
The only way we are going to be able to do this is to continue to dispel fears associated with predators through discussions like this one. No, a 30lb bobcat is not going to carry away your small child, no, a bobcat does not randomly attack small pets, and no, they are not aggressive animals that attack without reason.
I feel one small step closer to the general public accepting that not only is removing and relocating an animal just because you saw it in your yard a bad idea, but that in fact, it may be beneficial to allow the animal to remain in its home.
To all the wonderful citizens and city officials who attended this meeting, I thank you, and hope that the information presented here was informative and helpful to increase understanding of our urban (and rural) wildlife.
The City of Murpy is having a conference to discuss the death of a bobcat, shot in the head while confined in a live trap. In a few days, the director of WCCR and myself will be on our way to speak on the subject.
We will see how it goes. The City of Murphy has expressed that they now realize that the situation could have been handled far differently. I completely agree. I hope that as an organization, we may be able to take this opportunity to not only educate the public on the true nature of bobcats, but also to educate city officials on wildlife in general, and more appropriate channels in which to handle said wildlife. Wish us luck on this endeavor. More on the subject later.
The Theo saga continues with tonight’s terrifying fiasco. A day or two ago, little Theo the klutz managed to cut his leg on something. Who knows what. No big deal, his paw was a bit swollen, but pretty normal, and it looked as if it had healed up just fine. Tonight, we let him out for his regular play sessions, part of his socialization as a possible education animal. He ran and goofed off and played like kittens do while we had a bit of a staff meeting.
As we were talking, I noticed a few fresh drops of blood on one of the boxes Theo had been playing in. I stopped everyone, and we searched for the bleeding animal. As we looked around the room, I noticed little bloody footprints leading to Theo staring at us, wondering why we are all staring at him.
I grabbed him up, the blood running down his tiny leg very apparent. We rushed him to the kitchen to wash it off and find out where the bleeding was coming from. At this point, we are very worried. That is a LOT of blood for such a little guy. Val took Theo, and I pressed my thumb onto his bleeding leg, while a volunteer rushed to the medical supply room to grab some gauze and a blanket to wrap the now pissed off and screaming Theo in.
Somehow, during his play time, Theo apparently reopened his cut, opening his vein in the process. This is a very dangerous situation for our little bobcat. If we can’t stop the flow, he will bleed out and die. We stop the bleeding just long enough to see exactly where it is all coming from before it starts bleeding again. Quickly, pressure is reapplied; the gauze is now soaked and red. So is my hand. We HAVE to find a way to make it stop! Val takes over applying pressure so I can go find some styptic powder.
His gums are pale, and he is acting faint. We have to hurry.
Lucky for us, Val knows exactly where it is. I follow her yelled instructions across the ranch house, and rush back to our little bobcat. We peel back the gauze just long enough to put a generous amount of powder on the wound, then recover with fresh gauze, and apply pressure again. We peel back the gauze just enough to apply a second layer of powder, then cover and apply pressure again. Not wanting to take any chances, we basically concrete his leg with styptic powder, wrap it in gauze, and then in a quick, temporary vet wrap.
We spent the next hour or so taking turns holding him, and holding his little leg above his heart, basically by having him lay on his back, and sticking his little feet in the air. We doctor him up with a little nutrical to support his now anemic system, and have instant glucose on standby just in case his blood sugar drops too low from the sudden loss of blood. He was very bored with that game after about 30 minutes. He starts squirming and fighting. The pressure on his leg hurts! so we dose him with a little bit of pain-killer (which has the added benefit of calming him down), and ten minutes later, little Theo is good and calm, and most importantly, not hurting.
After sitting with him, carefully watching him, and making sure he isn’t bleeding through his bandage, and giving his body plenty of time to close up that wound enough to do a really good job of wrapping it, we give him a fresh, much more visually appealing wrap in royal blue!
If cats have nine lives, bobcats must have 30. Theo has had so many near misses in his short life. We were lucky to catch this one when we did. For what ever reason, bobcats like Theo who come to WCCR in such critical condition ALWAYS need extra supervision, and a lot of extra support to stay in good health. Lucky for him, he has a team of well trained, observant staff watching over him.
Hoover is our oldest resident. Hoover and his brother Kirby set the wheels for WCCR in motion. This year, Hoover is nine years old. His brother Kirby was placed in an AZA accredited facility www.aza.org along with another bobcat from Crosstimbers.
Many cats come here. The ones not suitable for release often move on to other facilities where they can become ambassadors for their amazing species.
When Hoover was little, he and his brother Kirby suffered from toxoplasmosis http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/. Their bout with this parasite left lingering affects. In Kirby, his vision was affected. In Hoover, his balance. Both of these senses are essential for a wild bobcat to thrive. Kirby is well suited to his current environment. Hoover remains here with us. Our gentle old man. Hoover sees himself as a six-week old kitten. He thinks he is still tiny, and that if he jumps into your arms, you should be there to catch him. he loves new scents, and new people, and basically ignores his keepers.
For Crosstimbers, Hoover reminds us why we open our doors to these under protected, misunderstood animals. He is gentle, quiet, and well-loved by all who know him. He is also our most photogenic cat, and loves his room-mate, Lenny!
Bobcats can live more than 30 years in captivity. here is wishing Hoover many more long, happy, healthy years!
Okay, I feel the need to correct some mis-information in this reporter’s story. First and foremost, urban bobcats are NOT smaller than rural bobcats. Valeri did NOT say that, and it is not accurate. What our director did say was that the subspecies Texensis that we see here in our state tends to be smaller than the northern subspecies.
Urban bobcats by nature are more acustom to humans than their rural counterparts, and in general are not as frightened of people, and therefore do not go on the defensive as readily. You can actually usually approach one and get fairly close to it before it will simply get up and walk away. They can exist in extremely close proximity to humans, even going so far as to den in a suburban back yard. They may be there for years before you ever even see them. They will very rarely go after family pets, and usually, if a bobcat is doing so, it is because someone is trapping predators in the area, prompting new, and greater numbers of predators to move in on the open territory, making their main prey (rats, small birds, snakes) more scarce. Basically, it boils down to mis-management by us humans of urban wildlife habitats.
The entire point of Valeri talking with WFAA was to clarify the difference between the role animal control plays, versus the role that we as wildlife rehabilitators play. Animal control in general is not equipped to handle wildlife, especially predators like bobcats. That is where the wildlife rehabilitators step in. We work with animal controls across the state to help them humanely and safely handle and relocate these animals.
The issue with what we do as wildlife rehabilitators is that the line of work we choose is not funded. We do this out of our own pockets, and only in numbers that we can personally afford. This does not mean that we are not knowledgable, and in fact many of us have careers in the animal field outside of the work we do as rehabbers. Unfortunately, I do not think the reporter quiet got the point of our director agreeing to talk to them, but I feel I must step in, and clarify the message that NBRR and WCCR was trying to convey in this interview.
Bobcats do not regress to aggression lightly, and I dare say a caged animal is handleable. This cat was scared and trapped. Not a comfortable place for a predator in any capacity. Animal control and the police department did not handle the situation as well as they could have, and apparently did not do their research, or they would have found groups more than willing to help. It was a sad feeling to know that the life of this animal was needlessly ended due to fear and ignorance, not just because it was a sad event.
Little Theo has long passed the intensive hourly care he needed when he arrived, and has shown tremendous improvement from that sad little kitten on the verge of death that found sanctuary and strength in Crosstimbers, but for some reason, when we get these little critical babies in, they always seem to remain more compromised and more fragile than their counterparts who show up on our door step in good health. We have to fight to keep these little ones sound and healthy, and Theo has been no exception.
Though he has a tremendous appetite, Theo is quite small for his age, and slight of build in comparison to the younger kittens that are almost as big as he is. He runs and plays just like all the others, but he needs just a little more intense supervision and monitoring than they.
From the night he arrived at Crosstimbers, the fight for his life has been a constant battle. From the hour to hour care he needed to overcome severe dehydration, emaciation, and pneumonia, to th hypoglycemia scare when he was weaning, to calcium problems expressed in the odd over growth of his baby teeth, and then the severe tooth infection he experienced while learning about the consumption of whole raw foods (im talking his face so swollen that our vet and our keepers feared that the swelling might close off his wind pipe and prevent him from breathing without a strong regime of meds to keep the swelling down), it seems that at each new milestone we reach, Theo has yet another hiccup to overcome. We are there for him every step of the way. Experienced vet techs, animal husbandry specialists, and our staff vet all keep a close watch over this little guy.
As he grows and we continue to track his health trends, we are always concerned that this will be a constant throughout Theo’s life, and without the support of his very own medical team in his wild world, the question becomes whether his health allows him to be a candidate for release. Intensive treatment after treatment only further imprints him on humans.
Who knows? One day, Theo may tell us that he is ready to be wild. He is young yet. We will continue to monitor his health, and he may yet have a chance to be wild again. Then again, he may follow Quincey’s path, and tell us that he will never be ready to face the wild world like he was always meant to. The saddest part in Theo’s story is that this all could have been prevented with a little fore-thought from those who found him.
Bobcats are extremely sensitive creatures, and can be very hard to raise. Especially random babies found abandoned by their mothers. The amount of lasting damage done to Theo’s little body by his stay in the hands of his discoverers is unknown. All we can do is use our experience with this animal to support and guide him through this journey we call life.
For now, Theo remains happy, health, and playful. He enjoys life, and is lucky to have found himself under the watchful eyes of WCCR.
So, not only has the wonderful Texas weather been consistently over 100 degrees daily, it is about to get a LOT hotter…we have been staving off the heat by giving our bobcats shallow kiddie pools with cool water in them to help them beat the heat. We also have misters set up in the long-term enclosures (they get more sun than the other enclosures on the property) to help our guys stay cool.
We are trying to get a mister set up for Lenny and Hoover, and their new roomie Shaka. Until then, its private pool party in the bachelor pad!
Who says only tigers are allowed to like water?! Bobcats know how to party! VIP access, pool side room service and belly rubs…this is the life!
Well, it looks like we may not be able to purchase the property we were looking at…it is a foreclosure, priced very low, but the bank did not want to sell it with the terms that we asked for. We are hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, and for it to happen fast! We needed to start moving the cats a month ago, and they are still at the ranch.
We are in constant need of donations right now, but with three staff members, and dozens of baby bobcats that need round the clock care, we have not had that much time to look for people who can help. Unfortunately, we are not talking about small donations…we are talking about donations of hundreds of dollars. There is so much that we will need to do if we can ever find a place to move to. Without that, we have no direction, and we cannot move forward.
We need money for bobcat formula, which is a couple hundred dollars a bucket, we need money to purchase some special dietary supplements for the babies, and medications, and donations for new cages when we do move, which will be at least a couple thousand per enclosure, or if by some miracle we can stay at our current property, donations to do some needed repairs on our existing enclosures.
It kinda sucks to feel like we are never going to catch a break.
As you may or may not know, WCCR is only rehabing bobcats this year. We thought this would help us step back and seek out some much-needed funding so that our now relatively large organization can begin paying people to do what we do. Well, we may have been wrong about that! There are so many baby bobcats on the property right now! More than ever before!
The babies are taking over! But they are not the only ones. We still take in many adults and juvenile cats. one of these juvies we have lovingly named Cheese. His name is actually Queso, but his personality has demoted him to cheese!
This bobcat is not only the product of inexperienced rehabilitation, but also being raised alone. He has gained all of his social compass from humans. He is severely food aggressive, and completely unafraid of humans. For this reason, Cheese will be placed in a USDA/AZA accredited facility as soon as we can find a place for him to go.
He is a beautiful, darkly marked cat with pretty large rosettes. He would make an awesome addition to an educational exhibit.
Whats better than an exhibit cat that actually WANTS to be seen?
This year, baby season seems to have gotten off to a late start. We started receiving calls on baby bobcats much later than we thought we would, and it hasn’t shown signs of slowing down! We just received one more kitten, and are waiting on it’s two siblings. Three more are on their way, and we still haven’t combined all the litters at the ranch.
Quarantine is a huge issue at the ranch. All babies get quarantined for 14 days to ensure we have as little chance of transferring disease as possible. As their quarantine end date comes near, we cautiously begin preparing their immune systems. probiotic, electrolytes, and plenty of fluids. Then, the introduction. This gives them the opportunity to strengthen their bodies, socialize, and learn the skills that will be so essential for their release days. Right now, we have quarantine tanks all over the house. two on the dining table, one behind the couch, another under the piano, and yet another behind the wing back chair. Not counting the nursery in the back of the house that has been completely taken over by babies, or Theo who is still being cared for by our dedicated intern.
Quarantine normally isn’t a problem….Except when all of your babies show up within days of each other, and all your quarantine tanks walk away…at the beginning of the year, we probably had 20 large tanks to use as quarantine facility for the babies. They have been slowly disappearing, and we are now down to five or so large ones, and a hand full of smaller tanks that really aren’t too useful for the babies as they grow. These tanks are not only expensive, but not too common to come across. As you know, we do not have the means to buy anymore at the moment, and we have kittens coming out our ears!
It is amazing how fast the little fuzz butts grow! I love my job ^.^
Our likelihood of moving is becoming more real every day. The director and I have been looking at properties all over east of Dallas. We have found one that I am in love with, and that is perfect for the center. It is smaller (not quite five acres), but it is much less expensive, and very suitable for what we would like to do with it.
We are in discussions with our realtor now. This move means cages, and truck loads of stuff that will need to be moved. I am apprehensive that with our current money issues that this is going to be exceedingly difficult. Our largest enclosure at the ranch cost over $5,000 to build. The smaller ones, $2,500 a piece. We have three of those. There are other enclosures as well. All similar in price. This doesn’t just mean monies to purchase materials, but costs of hauling those materials, and labor to build the new enclosures.
I have been trying to raise some funds for the move, and for the supplies that we are running through, but it is difficult to raise the amount of funding we need. I sent out a call for help on Facebook asking for assistance raising $1,000 to cover the cost of Theo’s $600.00 ransom, medical bills, and fresh supplies of much-needed bobcat formula and was able to raise $150.00 from three people, and I am eternally grateful to those wonderful people who answered the call for help, but we just need more. I do not know if I am just asking too often, or if there just isn’t enough people left in the world who understand the importance of our stewardship of our one and only earth, or the fact that ecological diversity (meaning balance of not just prey animals and plants, but predators too) equals ecosystem health.
Part of the issues we face here at WCCR is the misconceptions about the species we work with. The moment I stepped into that enclosure with Fidget for the very first time, my eyes were open to an incredible new realization about how judgemental humans are towards subjects of which we have no knowledge base. As one who has always desired to share my life with animals, and hope that animals allowed me the privilege of sharing a glimpse of their world, I make it a habit of reserving my opinion until the time that I possess the knowledge and perspective to develop one.
Fidget gave me that opportunity. He taught me secrets that I craved to learn. He let me in to his elusive world, and showed me the folly and stupidity of the human creature in painfully apparent ways. I can certainly say that very few people in the United States, or even the world, have first hand/extensive experience with bobcats.
That does not stop people from perpetuating false “truths” about them. Ask yourself, what do you truly know about this wild cat? If you were like me before I began my journey here, probably not much. What do they eat? How much? How often? How long do they live? How many offspring do they have? How often do they reproduce? WHAT IS THEIR BEHAVIOR LIKE? This is probably the most important question out of all of them, and the only one that you cannot find in the clinical texts that will give you the answers to all the others (if you find a good one with accurate information).
So why then, do people fear and hate them? I have asked myself this many times. I still do not have the answer to this question. To my best guess, I feel that people can relate to other creatures in which they see themselves. In other words, if a person can find a human trait in another life form, they are more likely to form a subconscious bond that allows them to see that creature in a favorable light.
Why do people find raccoons cute rather than dangerous and destructive? Because raccoons have hands that resemble our own, consume a similar (omnivorous) diet, and possess movement similar to that of a human.
Working at the London Zoo, I found that guests who visited our squirrel monkey enclosure often had the desire to reach out and touch the adorable little monkeys. Those very same guests would fearfully run in the butterfly exhibit to escape being lited on by the insect. So why would someone desire to reach for an animal that carries hepatitis, yet run from a non-threat like a butterfly? Because they can relate themselves to the monkey. He has a similar facial structure and bodily articulation, hands as opposed to paws, and a reasonably upright posture.
The insect on the other hand, is a non-hominoid animal that possesses no resemblance to a person. They have two more limbs, wings, compound eyes, and no hands, paws, or face to speak of. There is nothing relatable in that animal for the human viewing it, which seems to equal fear.
What does that have to do with The Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch? There is a point, I promise! The bobcat has virtually no similarities to a human physically. They are true carnivores (which, in its self instills fear into people. We could get into a huge evolutionary role lecture here, but that is a story for another day. By the way, dogs are NOT true carnivores.), they move in a four-legged articulation, rarely to never standing on their back feet, they do not possess hands, basically, the closest thing they have to a relatable feature is eyes set on the front of the face, and not to the sides of the head.
I do not know if this has anything to do with the lack of donors, or if it has more to do with the fact that because of the nature of our work, we are not a public facility. Not being able to have something for people to come look at makes it harder to find those much-needed donations. I have said it many times. There is no funding available for the kind of work we do. Everything that we do is through donations. Right now, we are really hurting for financial contribution. It makes this move unsettling at the least. We have so much to do, and so much to move, and so many lives that are about to be transitioning, human and animal.
I am excited, and fearful, and frustrated. I wanted so badly for this to work. I did not want to have to uproot the whole ranch, but we just could not find the money we needed to stay. This move gives us the opportunity for a fresh start, but money is a big worry for me. These enclosures, hauling materials, moving shop is going to be costly, and so far, I have not been successful in finding the donations we need to make this a smooth process.