Complex surgery saves injured bobcat

Young feline is now recovering at BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops and will be returned to the wild

A young bobcat will go on to live a happy life in the wild after it was struck by a car and rescued by two-legged friends at the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

“Hopefully, she’ll go on to breed and produce more little bobcats,” animal care manager Tracy Reynolds said.

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A nearly one-year-old female bobcat, which has since affectionately been named Gallagher due to the Okanagan location in which it was discovered, was dropped off at the BC Wildlife Park about a week-and-a-half ago.

The young feline had been struck by a vehicle and found by a passerby, who contacted conservation officers, who in turn brought it in for rehabilitation at the park’s Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre.

A large cut on one of the cat’s back legs was immediately stitched by staff. But the animal still couldn’t walk and its femur was determined the next day to be badly broken. Gallagher had three options: surgery, amputation or euthanasia.

Reynolds said it is unlikely the cat would survive with three legs in the wild.

“Ultimately, what we want to do is get them better so they can leave here,” she said.

bobcat xray
X-rays show the bobcat's legs after surgery. - BC Wildlife Park

A costly specialized surgery that involved a custom titanium plate was required, typically costing in the $5,000 range. A specialty clinic in the Lower Mainland, Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital, agreed to conduct the surgery at a fraction of the cost — about $2,000. The surgery was a success and Gallagher is now on antibiotics at the BC Wildlife Park.

It will be a couple of months before the bobcat can be released, but staff are confident in the animal’s success. Reynolds said the cat — the size of a big house cat at its age, but with huge paws and the voice of a mountain lion — has not been habituated.

“She’ll be released back in the Gallagher Lake area, where she was found,” Reynolds said.

Funding for Gallagher’s surgery comes from general park revenue. The BC Wildlife Park is a non-profit organization that funds its wildlife health centre via park admissions and public donations.

Conservation officers and the general public bring injured animals to the facility for rehabilitation. The majority of the animals that come in are birds of prey. The park sees on average one bobcat per year, though Reynolds said the life-saving surgery conducted on Gallagher was unique in its complexity.

“Our rehab centre, we manage to do a lot with a very small budget,” she said. “If we had a larger budget, we could do more.”

For more information on the health centre, visit the BC Wildlife Park website. Anyone who comes across an animal in need can contact conservation or bring the animal directly to the park. Contact the animal health centre by calling 250-573-3242 ext. 230 or 250-319-1129.

© Kamloops This Week


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