March 29, 2013, Manhattan, KS – Sunset Zoo’s trails are filled with babies this spring: a one-month old chimpanzee, an eight-month old colobus monkey and the newest addition, a young bobcat kitten. The animal is a little over five months old and came to the Zoo through the Milford Nature Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Program. For the last two months the orphaned kitten has been behind-the-scenes in the Zoo’s quarantine holding while staff ensured the animal was healthy and meeting important growth milestones.
“Working with organizations like the Milford Nature Center on unique cases such as this is win-win. It gives the animal a great chance of survival with a living environment similar to their wild surroundings and connects guests to a beautiful creature from our own backyard,” said Scott Shoemaker, Zoo Director.
Over the last week, Zoo staff have introduced the bobcat kitten to his new public exhibit. On warmer days, guests can see the new addition along the Kansas Plains Trail near the concession stand. Visitors are encouraged to be patient; the animal is still quite shy as he gets comfortable in his new surroundings.
The bobcat is now eating solid foods through the Zoo’s feline diet – ground meat enhanced with vitamins and nutrients particularly helpful for big cats. Kittens typically wean from their mother after two months and become fully independent at one year of age. Milford Nature Center staff bottle-fed the animal initially but the kitten was weaned when it arrived at the Zoo.
By nature bobcats are solitary animals, marking their territories with scent to repel intruders including other bobcats. The kitten joins the Zoo’s elderly bobcat female, Pebbles. However, because of their solitary nature and Pebbles’ advanced age the animals will remain in two separate exhibits.
Guests may notice a likeness to another famous Manhattanite – Willie the Wildcat. In fact, during the 1940’s and 1950’s several Zoo bobcats named Touchdown would travel to K-State athletic events. This tradition has since stopped due to animal care issues; the travel and game environment were stressful to the animal, and increased the risk for disease spread to the rest of the Zoo’s collection.
Sunset Zoo invites the community to help name the new addition, along with the new baby chimpanzee, at the Zoo’s annual Wine in the Wild event co-hosted by the Friends of Sunset Zoo. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on the chance to name the new additions on the evening of Saturday, June 1. Tickets to the popular fundraising event will go on sale this April.
To plan your visit to see the bobcat kitten, visit SunsetZoo.com or call 785.587.APES(2737). Sunset Zoo is currently open seven days a week from Noon to 5pm; on April 1st the Zoo will begin summer hours of 9:30am to 5pm. For more information about the Milford Nature Center call 785.238.LEAF or visit the Center in person, located a few minutes outside of Junction City near the Milford Reservoir.