Photos: Baby bobcat with uncertain future


by Mike Gertzman

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 12 at 10:45 AM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's baby season in the Arizona desert and wildlife experts have a warning: If you see a baby animal in the wild you should leave it alone.

Veterinary technicians at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center are caring for a baby bobcat -- the first one to arrive at the center this spring.

The people who found the three to four week old bobcat thought it was orphaned and brought it home.

Now the bobcat is getting 24-hour care until it can eat on its own, but Cassie Boyle, a veterinary technician at Southwest Wildlife tells people, "Don't assume that because you don't see mom that the mom's not close by watching or out getting food. Don't just assume that they're an orphan."

Boyle and the other veterinary technicians at Southwest Wildlife have to be careful not to talk to or even make eye contact with the newborn animals at the center -- to keep them from imprinting on humans as a parent.

Boyle wears gloves when she takes the bobcat out to feed. She has to stimulate it to go to bathroom just like mom would do. She does not cuddle, hold, or play with it, so the bobcat does not become attached to her.

Once weaned onto a bowl to eat, the bobcat will stay at SWCC for a few more weeks. The bobcat currently feeds every 4 hours and it gets a special zoologic milk mix. Each species has a different mix or combinations of different milks that have to be special ordered.

The experts say the bobcat could eventually be released into the wild. Once big enough, the bobcat will go to an outside enclosure next to Yuma, the foster bobcat, who will help teach the little one bobcat attitude, vocalizations, and behavior of a wild bobcat.

SWCC expects to get more baby bobcats. They will be grouped as they grow so they are not alone.

The hope is that all of the babies brought to the center will be released back into the wild.