Bobcats foster orphaned kittens in Scottsdale

It’s a rough world out there for the wildlife in Arizona, but sometimes there are those animals that inspire and make us smile. The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale has a pair of those.

They’re two adult bobcats, named by workers Mr. and Mrs. Foster, and they help to rear orphaned bobcat kittens.

The wildlife experts at the center ask people to leave wild kittens they find alone. Sometimes their parents leave them behind while they hunt. But four recent arrivals — two sets of bobcat litter-mates who lost their parents — are now under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Foster.

“We noticed when we put bobcat kittens near them, they wanted to be close to them,” said Kim Carr, one of the center’s education professionals. “They were very interested in them. We began to think maybe they would make good foster parents.”

The adults have adopted the orphans as their own.

“It was love at first sight,” Carr said. “No aggression whatsoever. Just pure love.”

Parenting seems to come naturally to the adult pair. This is not their first foster litter. Their older teenagers are in the enclosure next door.

“Mr. and Mrs. Foster thought they were going to get a break … nope, in come the four new ones,” Carr said. “I think we only gave them a couple of days to rest.”

They just picked up where they left off with the previous litter.

Mr. and Mrs. Foster are permanent residents. Both were hit by cars in separate accidents. Their facial injuries prevent them from going back out into the wild.

However, for the little ones, the goal is to get them back out in the wild, and they are going to learn everything they need from their adopted parents.

“They have to learn how to hunt. Be a bobcat. Act like a bobcat,” Carr said. “There’s bobcat language and bobcat body language.”

Though not large, the enclosure in which the bobcat family lives is kept as natural as possible. Ultimately, live prey — rabbits and mice — will be introduced for the kittens to learn about hunting.

And they need to learn to avoid humans. That’s why our camera shot from a distance as Mom mostly lay between our photographer and the kittens.

They’re learning skills to help the kittens in the real world.

“Such a neat blended family we have going on, that’s really going to increase their survival in the wild,” Carr said.

In the wild, a father bobcat usually doesn’t help too much with the litter or even stick around. In this case, Mr. Foster helps out where he can.

For more about the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, visit www.southwestwildlife.org.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/11/18/12news-scottsdale-bobcats-foster-kittens/19242247/