Two bobcats were given a second chance at life in the wild this month, as two orphaned siblings were released into Jacks Peak Park in Monterey, United States. The brother and sister were found by the SPCA of Monterey County in the summer of 2020, who - recognizing they were too young to be without their mother - took the animals in and treated them for dehydration and parasites. As they were still very young, the furry little cubs were transferred to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV) for rearing. The WCSV has a California Department of Fish and Wildlife permit which means they have the resources and experience needed to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild animals.
The cubs needed a special enclosure to help them establish the survival skills they needed in the wild and to ensure that they didn’t grow accustomed to the sight of humans in seeing keepers daily as this could harm their chances of survival in the wild. They were set up in a naturalized enclosure (free of humans) so they could work on their moves and feed in ways that would mimic the opportunities and obstacles they might face in the wild. Being fed live rodents meant they could develop the hunting skills that would normally have been demonstrated to them by their mother.
“The bobcats were raised in a manmade enclosure with structures meant to intrigue and prompt the cats to develop natural behaviors,” said the Operations Manager for County Parks of Monterey in an email to IFLScience. “The cats were fed a natural diet of live rodents and carrion that they would encounter in nature.”
The cubs remained in captivity for 8 months at the WCSV as keepers monitored their progress and preparedness for eventual release. Once it was decided that the siblings were ready to go it alone their release was organized with County Parks of Monterey, who decided that the two would rejoin the wild on March 24th. They were released at the same location they were discovered, with an audience of captivated humans reveling in the successful return of the bobcats to their home territory.
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are a successful species of wild cat found across North America, named for their adorable stubby “bob” tails. It’s the smallest of the Lynx genus, measuring around 47.5 to 125 centimeters (18.7 to 49.2 inches) in length. A pregnant female can give birth to up to six cubs at a time, who she’ll raise on her own. They are weaned at five months and will head out on their own shortly before they turn one.