A California wildlife rehabilitation center is using some unusual methods when it comes to mothering abandoned baby bobcats before releasing them back into the wild.
In 1994, the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC) in Morgan Hill, California adopted a unique and groundbreaking technique for teaching these babies the hunting, foraging, and survival skills they’ll need in the wild, while limiting their interactions with humans. To ensure that kittens won’t become familiar with people once they are released back into their natural habitats, vets go to great lengths to play a convincing bobcat mom.
Rubbed down in herbs to conceal their human scent, the WERC handlers slip on a specially designed bobcat mother costume, complete with eau de bobcat urine for a realistic scent. As the “moms” clean, feed, and play with the babies, they work to act as bobcat-like as possible, walking on all fours and not speaking.
Currently, WERC is caring for three young bobcat kittens found lost or abandoned by their mothers, focusing on keeping their valuable instincts intact. Once the kittens have reached about nine months of age, they will be reintroduced to the habitat at the location they were found.