Bobcat, believed to have been stolen, could be in danger
Chattanooga's Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center is pleading for people to help them find a stolen bobcat, named Evi. Staffers say they discovered she was missing Tuesday morning when they came in for work.
The bobcat not only poses a possible danger to the public, but also, to herself.
A fence lines the perimeter of the nature exhibit, but it showed no signs forced entry.
A TWRA ranger believes a rock was used to open the individual cases. The bald eagle, part of the center's animals, was not taken. The thief wasn't successful in snatching the large raptor.
Tish Gailmard, the Director of Wildlife at the center, says the bald eagle put up a fight.
“When we need to catch her to do vet work, like trimming her beak it takes two of us,” said Tish Gailmard. “We are very skilled at what we do.”
The suspect then went to Evi the bobcat's cage and was successful in taking her.
Gailmard says it's difficult being in the cage without her. “She's very personable,” said Gailmard. “She's very gregarious, and she's a wild animal.”
Gailmard says there has never been a break-in like this at the center before.
The concern for these animals is that they are all here because of an injury that prevents them from being in the wild.
“Evi is here because she is habituated to humans. She spent very little time in the wild as a small kitten."
Channel 3 was there when Gailmard received the first tip of a bobcat sighting in the area.
“We got a call about a bobcat sighting near the Cravens House,” said Gailmard. She says bobcats do frequently roam around our area.
The bobcat and bald eagle may have been targeted because of their value.
Gailmard's biggest fear is that Evi will be sold in an exotic auction.
“The illegal pet trade is alive and well, unfortunately,” said Gailmard. “These two animals might be sought after.”
Since the incident, the center has beefed up security by adding chains and cameras.
“Bring her back!” said Gailmard. “Bring her back because we need to care for her properly. Bring her back.”
The TWRA and the staff are working closely to try to find Evie.
If you have spotted a bobcat, your urge to call Taylor Brown 423-309-9969.
A reward may be given to those who return her home safely.