For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — On Oct. 27 Wildwood Park & Zoo officially welcomed Bets the bobcat. Bets is a 9-year-old male bobcat that was transferred to Wildwood Zoo from Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo. Here he will join Lexi, Wildwood’s 11-year-old lynx.
Bets is a confident, outgoing cat. Although he just arrived at the zoo last week, he is already eager to explore his new exhibit and interact with guests. The addition of a bobcat to the exhibit is a great opportunity for patrons to see a side-by-side comparison of these two closely related species. With his addition, the former Lynx Exhibit will now be known as the Wildcat Exhibit.
Bobcats, sometimes referred to as wildcats, are medium-sized cats that are typically about twice the size of a house cat. They are the most abundant wild cat species in North America and have the largest geographic distribution. Though bobcats are relatively common predators — estimated population in the United States is about 2.3 to 3.6 million animals and about 2,850 in Wisconsin — they are rarely seen. Bobcats are most active at night and are extremely elusive. They are very adaptable to a wide range of environments, ranging from dense woodlands and swamps to desert. A bobcat’s usual home range is about 3-5 square miles, though suburban cats might inhabit an area about 20 percent that size. Their preferred foods are small mammals and birds. However, they will prey upon animals much larger than themselves. In fact, they can be a significant source of whitetail predation in some of their range.
Bobcat and lynx are both part of the lynx family. Differences between the two species can be subtle, and people often mistake them in the wild. Here in Wisconsin, lynx and bobcat ranges almost overlap. Sighting either is possible, but a lynx sighting in Wisconsin is very rare. In fact, the last positively confirmed lynx in Wisconsin was in 1992. Scientists do not believe there was ever a breeding population of lynx in the state. Individuals that are sighted are likely traveling south from their usual habitat in search of food.
For those that would like to come visit Bets, the Wildcat Exhibit can be found on the north end of the core zoo near the mountain lions. Zoo hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. Beginning Nov. 1, the zoo will begin its winter hours of 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.daily.