He’s 1-year-old, slightly bigger than a house cat and has been on display for only a week. But the newest member of Micke Grove Zoo prances, purrs and plays as if he’s right at home.
On display between the golden tamarin monkey and bald eagle exhibits, the zoo’s small and feisty bobcat, who weighs a slight 22 pounds and has yet to be named, already knows how to put on a show.
He climbs trees, pounces on unsuspecting insects and paces like a mighty prince atop his catwalk, high above observers.
“He claimed (his exhibit) instantly,” said Carrie McMorris, animal care specialist at Micke Grove Zoo.
Zoo officials began looking for a new attraction after Monte, a 16-year-old mountain lion, died of kidney failure in August.
A coati and prehensile-tailed porcupine were considered as replacements, but zoo officials settled on the personable bobcat.
Micke Grove adopted him from a wildlife conservation center in Tucson, Ariz., which rescued him when he was less than a year old.
While in captivity and receiving constant care, the bobcat grew attached to people, McMorris said.
As a result, he’s not shy around a crowd and has quickly become a fan favorite.
But his friendly nature would make him easy prey for hunters who target bobcats for their fur. It’s one reason he can’t be released back into the wild, McMorris said.
The bobcat, which is named after its short-bob tail, can reach 30-35 pounds, and live up to 15 years in the wild or 20-22 years in captivity.
They’re found throughout North and South America. Their population is abundant, but because of their skill at hiding, they’re rarely seen.
“Hikers might pass three or four and not even know it,” McMorris said.
In the wild, bobcats hunt squirrels, rabbits, lizards and can even take down a small deer.
At Micke Grove Zoo, this bobcat receives a strict diet of raw meat, mice, chicken and fish.
McMorris said she’ll soon hide the food around the exhibit and leave live goldfish in a small pool so he can demonstrate his hunting instincts.
Bobcats are known for stalking before pouncing on their pray. This young hunter can pounce from 10 feet away.
“There’s a lot of punch packed in a little package,” McMorris said.
Visitors will soon have another exhibit to visit, as the zoo prepares to release a snow leopard in the coming weeks.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.