How Bob the bobcat was rescued with nothing more than a pair of oven mitts
Bob has become a local celebrity as the first-ever bobcat at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre
The Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Kingston, Ont., has a very special guest in their care — a wild predator who has become a bit of a local celebrity with plenty of human friends.
Bob, the shelter's first-ever bobcat, was rescued using some pretty unconventional methods.
"I decided that maybe I should don a pair of oven mitts so at no point did we touch this cat," explained Kingston resident Laurie Paquin, who found the injured feline on a country road last Friday.
Staff at Sandy Pines aren't sure what happened to Bob, although they think he was hit by a vehicle. At the time, Paquin wasn't sure how badly injured he was.
"At first, we thought maybe his back was broken. Upon closer inspection we could see that he still did have the use of his hind legs."
Once Bob was secure in the back seat of Paquin's vehicle, she headed to Sandy Pines, stopping several times along the way to make sure the animal was still alive and breathing.
The bobcat was dropped off at the rescue centre with life-threatening injuries.
The assistant director and wildlife custodian at Sandy Pines, Leah Birmingham, said they had no choice but to handle him like a large, feral cat.
"He was concious and he was aware that he did not want to be handled by humans, but he wasn't capable of defending himself or getting himself away from us, so we were able to handle him," Birmingham explained.
"Now that he's come to, we go as hands free as we can. If we have to give him medication, we give that in food so that we don't have to handle him."
Caring for a giant cat
Birmingham said the set up to care for their first-ever bobcat was quite extensive.
They knew he might be hypothermic, so heating pads were set up in a large carrier. His eyes were kept covered with a towel as they administered pain medication. He had head trauma, so the swelling had to be minimized.
Birmingham described him as being like "a drunk large cat," a little wobbly and falling over on his back several times.
The team was able to take him for x-rays to rule out any possible fractures, give him another IV treatment and remove his IV catheter before he came out of sedation.
Once he came to, Birmingham said he was much more difficult to handle and has now been moved to a safer, outdoor location.
She explained that he stays perched up high in the outdoor enclosure, which is a good sign, because it shows that he's responding quickly to the presence of humans, and is going to a good place to defend himself.
Birmingham said seeing injured animals like Bob progress quickly is definitely the "best case scenario."
"The longer wildlife have to be kept in captivity, the more chances of injuries and disease from the stress of being captive."
What's in a name?
The Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre doesn't usually name wild animals.
Birmingham said it helps to avoid developing a strong bond with a wild animal that's going to be released back into the wild where it belongs. They're not pets.
She said this was a very different circumstance.
"We had had some pretty sad news that morning that a long term volunteer had passed from cancer that morning. His name was Bob and we know that he would have been very excited by us having a bobcat in care," she explained, "so it seemed fitting to call the bobcat Bob."
Birmingham said Bob is making tremendous strides. He's growling and hissing at Sandy Pines workers to let them know that he wants nothing to do with them, which is good. He is also eating...mostly roadkill rabbit that people bring into the centre.
"Bob is last years young and likely has family in the area," Birhimgham explained. They'd like to get him back to that family as soon as possible.
Birmingham said he is doing phenomenally well, so much so that they're hoping to release Bob back into the wild on Friday, with his rescuer, Paquin, doing the honours.
"They went to the effort of rescuing the animal in the first place, and I'm sure that took a fair amount of nerve on Laurie's part. She saw the animal, she rescued it, she got it to us fast."