Blind Baby Bobcat
This past week has been an exhilarating one at Peace River Wildlife Center. We had our summer volunteer and staff appreciation party, where we thank all of the wonderful (foolhardy) folks who brave the heat, bugs and torrential rains to help us throughout the sultry summer months. Our tiny but mighty staff of 9 could not achieve PRWC’s mission without a lot of community involvement. PRWC is the success that it is because of our volunteers and our generous supporters.
We normally hold a pot luck picnic at the pavilion in Ponce de Leon Park. It’s a beautiful setting and close enough so that even the people who are working can slip out for a bite to eat and a chance for a quick social visit. We often get rained on, but we are all kind of used to that. This year as a special treat, Trabue Restaurant in Punta Gorda hosted our party and it was spectacular. We closed PRWC early for the first time so all of our staff could attend. It was a great time, the food was delicious, the staff attentive, and the venue was extraordinary.
We weren’t all about the party this week though; we did get a little work in. Baby bird season is finally slowing down and now the baby squirrels are starting to stream through the doors. Our amazing foster parents are taking care of close to 30 baby eastern gray squirrels right now. If anyone is interested in learning how to care for neonates (syringe feeding every 3-4 hours), call PRWC to sign up for an introductory lesson.
The most exciting patient of the week was a young bobcat. The kitten was seen in a Port Charlotte backyard one day. The savvy (This is not an insult. If you don’t understand the meaning of the word, please Google it.) homeowners left the gate open for the bobcat to leave or its mother to return for it. After over 24 hours the kitten was still there, repeatedly walking into the fence, so they called PRWC. Charlotte County Animal Control officer Finkbeiner picked up the confused kitten and transported to our facility.
The approximately four-month-old female bobcat kitten was quite thin on admission, but otherwise appeared to be in good health. Her eyes looked fairly normal but she is visually impaired and would not have survived in the wild on her own. We don’t know if she was born blind and survived this long by her mother’s side or if she sustained some sort of trauma that lead to the impairment, although no injuries are present at this time. Her bloodwork was normal, so a congenital anomaly like a liver shunt is unlikely.
Since PRWC does not have room for resident mammal habitats, we reached out to our friends around the state. And while the east coast was girding for the possible attack by Tropical Storm / Hurricane Erica, the good folks at Flamingo Gardens responded quickly. Just west of Fort Lauderdale in Davie, Florida, Flamingo Gardens was able to take in the little bobcat and give her a permanent home. They have called her Charlotte in honour of her hometown.
Charlotte will be treated and handled carefully over the next few weeks and months as she acclimates to her new life. The Flamingo Gardens staff will assess her aptitude as an educational animal. If she is not comfortable being handled and being close to visitors, she will go on display with their older female. We are sad to see her go, but we know this is the best possible place for her to live a long and happy life.
by–Robin Jenkins, DVM