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Bobcat kitten duo transferred from CROW to Big Cat Rescue before release

By Staff | Jul 2, 2015

The rehabilitation has turned into survival training for the pair of bobcat kittens being cared for at the Clinical of Wildlife Rehabilitation on Sanibel.

The duo has been transferred to the Big Cat Rescue facility in Tampa Bay last week, where they will begin honing their hunting and survival skills to be able to make it out in the wild.

The Big Cat Rescue has named the two kittens “Captiva” and “Phoenix”, who was the two to three-week old male which was rescued from a Lee County brush fire just under a month ago by a Fort Myers television crew.

Captiva is the older female who was brought in a few weeks before Phoenix. The decision to pair the two up was a vital one and now they have bonded well to each other, which will help in their progress to their release date, which still won’t be for another six to eight months.

“The female was treated for a little parasite problem and was very dehydrated and a little on the thin side,” said Dr. Heath Barron, who is the hospital director at CROW. “For her, we basically gave her supportive care to get her body weight back up. She would have already gone to Big Cat Rescue, but then the little one came in.

“It’s always a good idea to have more than one together, because they imprint on each other, rather than on people.”

Phoenix was just under a month old when he was brought into CROW and already had a strong human imprint on him after being fed and watered after being rescued.

“At that age, kittens imprint very easily,” Barron said. “He had no fear of humans when he arrived, and the female was very wary of people, so we paired them up.”

Captiva and Phoenix bonded well and she was able to transfer her fear of people to him, which is key.

The burns on Phoenix healed well and they were both dewormed, while being tested for heartworm and any other transmittable diseases which they could have brought with them to Big Cat Rescue.

CROW has the capability to rehab and treat adult bobcats, but kittens are a different matter, that’s why the decision was made to transfer them to Tampa.

“Our cages are large, and can safely house carnivores, but it’s not a huge cage and (kittens) need a lot of space to run and get ready to be released back out in the wild,” Barron said. “Big Cat Rescue does have a very large cage and they do live-prey feeding and that’s an important step to teach them how to hunt.”

Typically kittens will go on their own at about nine months of age, so with Phoenix still around three months old, the release date will not be at least for another six months. The pair will also be released together and stay together in the same cage at Big Cat Rescue.

On their release date, they will be brought back to Lee County. By Florida law, they only can be released on a minimum of privately owned 40 acres of land, with the permission of the owner.

Ric Pritchett, who owns the land where the famed Eagle Cam duo of Ozzie and Harriet are nested, has already granted permission for the two bobcats to be released on his acreage, which is well over 40 acres.

“We will see if it’s an ideal place for bobcats,” Barron said. “We will also look to see if any of our other locations might even be a more ideal location. We want them way out, way away from people and habitat which gives them plenty of options for prey.”

The biggest challenge the two orphans will face when released back out into the wild is hunting for themselves and starvation.

The pair also will more than likely split up and go their separate ways after being released.

“Bobcats are solitary creatures and don’t hang out with each other,” Dr. Barron said. “Whether or not if this little male and the female stay together, we won’t know. But right now, they are very bonded together.”

Wounded sea turtle still in serious condition, but improving

The wounded loggerhead sea turtle, which came into CROW a couple of months ago after being struck by a boat, is improving, but is still in serious condition.

“We are still guarded about her condition,” Barron said. “The wound is still severe, and it’s deep down in the shell, and still has infection in it.”

The sea turtle has had three different surgical procedures done on it to clean up the infection, as well as two medical-grade maggot therapies to help eat away the dead and infected tissue.

A recent CAT Scan shows damage to its spinal cord, which could mean the loggerhead may have to stay in permanent captivity.

“The CAT Scan showed very obvious damage to its spinal cord,” Barron said. “If it were a mammal or a bird, they would be a no-go for release for sure. But we’ll have to see, it’ll probably be a year at least, or longer, before we know. In all likelihood, she will be a permanent captive animal.”

If that should occur, the Florida Fish and Wildlife will decide where the sea turtle will be housed, which more than likely will be at an educational facility such as an aquarium.

The loggerhead’s treatments have been ongoing and very expensive, as well. One medical-grade maggot therapy costs $150, and that’s without considering the time to administer it.

The medical-grade honey treatments to fight the infection, also costs $30 per small bottle and it receives one every two days.

CROW is also administering wound-vacuum therapy, which is a much more effective way of treating sea turtle wounds.

“We have been using our wound-vac a lot and it’s starting to wear on it,” Dr. Barron added.

A donation of a wound-vacuum would be a huge help for CROW, so they can administer the best possible therapy possible.

With the costs mounting up to treat the sea turtle, people can donate to CROW by visiting their website at crowclinic.org/. People can also donate directly to the care of the sea turtle, by purchasing items on CROW’s wish list at Amazon.com such as the medical-grade honey and special bandages, which can be found at www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/?ie=UTF8&cid=A15Y3G1JH490P5.