Bobcat Interpretive Guide

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1 Interpretive Guide Exhibit Talking Point: Our job as interpreters is to link what the visitors are seeing to The Zoo's conservation education messages. Our goal is to spark curiosity, create emotional connections and inspire visitors to take action. The best way to achieve this goal is to share thematic information that connects to The Zoo's messaging. To help you successfully engage with visitors at the bobcat exhibit, a thematic talking point is listed below. Theme: Living things live within complex relationships in ecosystems. Talking point: Bobcats are predators Possible hooks: Can you find the bobcat? Related information: o Bobcats are carnivorous. They mostly eat rabbits and rodents, but also eat a variety of other animals, ranging from small mammals to deer. o Bobcats are ambush predators. Well camouflaged, they sit and wait for a prey animal to walk by, then they slowly sneak up behind, or stalk, the prey to get close enough to make a successful catch. o Bobcats are well adapted for hunting prey. They are well camouflaged, have a good sense of sight, hearing and smell, have sharp claws, and powerful legs. Call to action: o Encourage visitors to visit the other cat exhibits during their visit and think about how they compare to bobcats. o Encourage visitors to visit the otter exhibit and observe how their adaptations for hunting differ from bobcats.

2 Description Size: o Length: inches o Height: inches Weight: pounds Physical Description: Approximately twice the size of the average housecat with relatively long legs, a ruff of fur framing the face, black tuft-tipped ears that are less pronounced and sometimes absent in some subspecies, and a short bobbed tail with a tip that is black on top and white underneath. Their darkly streaked and spotted fur is short, soft, and dense and typically presents in various shades of brown or reddish tones, while their undersides are of a lighter coloration. Sexual Dimorphism: Males are typically larger than females. In the Wild Habitat and Range Range: Widespread from southern Canada throughout the United States and into central Mexico. o Found in western Maryland Habitat: Prefers terrain that provides cover for concealment and protection, like boreal and coniferous forests, swamps, scrublands, deserts, and mountains. Diet Carnivorous: Diet mainly consists of rabbits and hares but can range from mice to deer. They are opportunistic and will also consume carrion, fish, lizards, birds, and insects. Adaptations Camouflage: Their mottled brown coat breaks up their outline and allows them to lie in wait for their prey unseen. Behavioral adaptations include sunning themselves and moving to different locations within their territory based on weather and food availability. Large, forward-facing eyes and alert ears allow them to locate prey Sharp, retractable claws assist in climbing and catching prey Social Structure Solitary unless a female is accompanied by her offspring Communication through scent-marking and vocalizations o Territories are maintained through scent-marking using feces, urine, scrapes, and anal glands secretions.

3 Lifespan/Life Cycle Wild: years Captivity: 33+ years Ecosystem relationships Competitors: Coyotes and red foxes Predators: Mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, dogs, and occasionally other bobcats Importance: Control populations of numerous small prey species Human impact: May have a detrimental impact on livestock but the majority of their prey are considered to be human nuisances Reproduction Breeding season: Peaks February-April Behavior: Polygamous, males do not take care of offspring o Females annually utilize existing, well-protected structures like caves or beaver lodges for their natal den (the den where they give birth), but they can have up to 5 auxiliary dens that they can move the kittens between if a den is discovered or if danger is nearby. Gestation: 63 days Number of offspring: 3-6 kittens Maturation: o Born blind, eyes open after 3-11 days o Nursing period lasts 2-4 months o At 3-5 months kittens start traveling with their mother o Become independent around 7 months o Become sexually mature at 1 year old for females, 2 years old for males Activity Crepuscular; most active at dawn and dusk o Depending on range and time of year can also be mostly nocturnal or diurnal as well due to food availability. Ambush predators capable of short bursts of speed Climb trees when threatened Other Fun Facts Bobcats are good swimmers and may enter the water to fish, play, or defecate. Can take down adult deer 10 times their own weight but this usually occurs when the deer are caught resting. Only species within the lynx genus known to exhibit rare color mutations such as melanism (all black fur) and possibly albinism (lacking pigment resulting in white fur and red/pink eyes).

4 Conservation Status and Threats IUCN listed as Least Concern Threats: o Habitat Loss: Spread of urbanization is diminishing natural habitats. As bobcats begin utilizing urban spaces, there is a higher rate of roadrelated mortality as well as genetic isolation due to roads fracturing habitats. o Persecution: Both direct and indirect: Larger coyote populations are leading to increased competition for resources where their ranges overlap. Killed by farmers to prevent livestock losses. Pesticides targeting rodents called rodenticides are responsible for localized bobcat population declines (i.e. California) when bobcats eat poisoned prey. Additionally the presence of domestic dogs can lead to negative interactions resulting in the spread of disease such as canine distemper. Hunting: While their pelt is still the most traded commodity of any feline, thanks to proper regulation in 1975 when the species was added to Appendix II of CITES it is illegal to trade without a permit, so while this has been a historic threat it is currently well managed. At the Zoo The Zoo currently houses two bobcats. The male bobcat is named Kilgore and he was found by a fisherman in Oregon in June 2016 when he was 6 weeks old. He was cared for at the Oregon Zoo and was then transferred to us in September. His name refers to Kilgore Falls, Maryland s second-highest vertical waterfall located in Rocks State Park. The female bobcat is named Josie, she came to us from the Tulsa Zoo in December 2016 and is 6 years old. What We Can Do Do your research before buying a pet o Some people think it would be fun to own a wild or exotic cat, but wild animals, even those born in zoos that can be several generations removed from the wild, still retain their untamed instincts and behaviors and therefore do NOT make good pets. Opt for fake fur over real fur when purchasing clothes or other products o All of our shopping choices can have an impact on wildlife and the environment, so we can help move the market demand away from items that produce negative consequences just by making responsible, well-informed choices.

5 Opt for recycled and/or local products Buy from companies that do not use animal-based products or testing Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help preserve habitat o Conserve energy, opt for reusable items, reduce litter and pollution, and recycle o Avoid using pesticides that cause unintended damage to the environment and/or food chain, do research to make sure the pest being targeted will be the only thing affected by such chemical applications Support conservation efforts of local organizations like The Maryland Zoo, as well as organizations working in the field to protect wildlife and conserve habitat. Learn more about them, spread the word, and consider getting involved. Additional Resources and References: Arkive: IUCN: Mammalian Species: International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada:

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