BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The High Desert Museum says it's offering up the perfect gift opportunity — the chance to name the now-juvenile bobcat in the Museum’s care.
The Museum will raffle the naming of the new bobcat, with tickets on sale now in person at the Museum and at highdesertmuseum.org/bobcat-raffle. Proceeds will go toward supporting the Museum’s wildlife, exhibitions and programs.
The male bobcat kitten arrived at the Museum in October weighing less than 3 pounds. By April, he had matured enough to begin making appearances in an atrium habitat across from the permanent Spirit of the West exhibition. Gert the gray fox, who previously inhabited the space, now appears nearly daily in the popular 3:00 p.m. Museum talk, Desert Dwellers.
The bobcat is now considered a juvenile — he weighs about 19 pounds, and visitors regularly spy him playing, napping and engaging in other typical feline behaviors in the space.
“The bobcat quickly became a visitor favorite at the Museum,” says Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “While bobcats are well-established in the region, it’s rare to see one, especially so close. So this bobcat presents a unique opportunity for visitors to connect with an important predator of the High Desert.”
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife placed the bobcat at the Museum after he was found in the Portland area separated from his mother. State wildlife officials initially returned the bobcat back where he was found in the hope that his mother would come back, but the kitten soon gravitated toward people again. Since the bobcat was habituated to humans, he wasn’t suitable for release into the wild.
The Museum’s wildlife team has expertise in caring for feline predators, and staff are presently training him to voluntarily crate and to participate in husbandry and veterinary care.
It will take nearly another year for the bobcat to reach a full size of 20-25 pounds. Wild bobcats eat a wide range of prey including birds and small mammals.
“The Museum wildlife team does its best to mimic a wild diet for the animals in its care, and the bobcat enjoys meals that include rats, mice, rabbit, quail and other whole-animal foods,” says Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson. “He has done well so far and is a smart animal who has taken quickly to training and working with wildlife staff.”
The Museum cares for more than 130 animals, from otters to raptors. All the animals are nonreleasable, either due to injuries or because they became too familiar with humans. At the Museum, they serve as ambassadors who educate visitors about the conservation of High Desert species and landscapes.
Raffle tickets for the bobcat naming will cost $50 each. The drawing will take place at approximately 7:30 pm during the Museum’s largest fundraising gala of the year, the High Desert Rendezvous. Ticket purchasers need not be present at Rendezvous to win. The raffle does place parameters on appropriate names for the bobcat.
Tickets for High Desert Rendezvous remain available at highdesertmuseum.org/hdr. An individual ticket for Rendezvous is $150 for members and $200 for nonmembers, and for a couple the event costs $300 for members and $350 for nonmembers. Sponsorship tables are available for parties of eight or 10.
This year’s High Desert Rendezvous silent auction—always packed with luxurious items and one-of-a-kind experiences—will take place online at highdesertmuseum.org/hdr. Bidding will open Friday, August 18 and end on Monday, August 28.
High Desert Rendezvous is presented by First Interstate Bank.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM:
THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.