Tag Archives: serval

The New Cat In The Woods

“I think I saw an ocelot. It crossed the road in front of me-just outside of Oklahoma City.”

“What do you think of these game camera photos? Is this a serval or maybe an ocelot?”

“What kind of wild cat species is this? Has something escaped from the zoo?”

These questions, comments and conversations have increased dramatically over the last 2-3 years.

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A meeting with a beautiful serval brought smiles to everyone at Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fl. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

People have always submitted photos of cats caught on game cameras or cell phones to ask for evaluation. They are usually to distinguish bobcats versus cougars or people thinking the might have the image of an elusive “black panther”.

I believe I have pretty much closed at least chapter 1 of the panther issue and you can read that blog here.

The phenomenon I mention now is different and I believe it involves a different kind of cat on the American landscape.

Hybrid and designer cat breeds are popular in America.

Everything from the relatively common Bengal cat (originates with Asian leopard cat/domestic hybrid) to savannah cats (serval/domestic hybrid) to designer cats like the ocicat all look wild, look exotic and to a certain extent are and they are now entering the woods and wildlands and confusing the public.

Here are a couple of photos sent to me by Amy Chambers in San Patricio, TX. She thought she might have captured an ocelot on camera but at closer examination this is without a doubt a domestic and most likely a Bengal or Bengal hybrid.

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Gamer camera photo from San Patricio, Tx. (Photo Courtesy Amy Chambers)
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Game camera photo from San Patricio, Tx. (Photo Courtesy Amy Chambers)

Bengal cats come in various colors, sizes and patterns. The basic look mimics the original stock of Asian leopard cat in terms of pattern.

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The Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® Bengal cat “Purity” interacting with kids.

Our Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® Bengal “Purity” is what is called a “snow leopard” morph with the white/gray mix and blue eyes. The pattern though is Asian leopard cat or even ocelot-like.

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Closeup of the Amy Chambers San Patricio Cat which the author believes is most likely a Bengal.

There are even breeders who specifically breed for the spot pattern close to ocelots or Asian leopard cats and interestingly we discovered one about 20 miles from where this cat was captured on a game camera.

Even though our Bengal is sweet she has a little wild in her and has incredible jumping abilities and predatory instincts. We never allow her near our birds or small mammals. And she is probably four generations removed from original hybridization.

Savannahs are out there that are half serval and some of them are wild enough in fact that they end up at sanctuaries due to them not being quite as cuddly as some domestic cats.

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A Savannah is a hybrid of a serval and domestic cats. (Public Domain Photo)

People allow their cats to go outside. Cats escape houses and pens and as we know with standard-edition feral cats they are everywhere.

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A lavender and chocolate color phase Ocicat. (Public Domain Photo)

I believe we will see more of these types of cats in the wild and they will contribute to many people thinking they have seen everything from a long-tailed bobcat to ocelots and leopards.

I will write more on this issue but wanted to get this out there to let people know some of the beautiful, spotted, long-tailed cats they are seeing in the woods may be exotic and even feral but not necessarily wild.

The era of the exotic hybrid cat has begun in the wild areas of America as I have personally received photos and videos to identify from Texas, Michigan and New York.

If you think you have a photos or videos. of one of these cats or a spotted cat you cannot identify email chester@chestermoore.com.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Panther Encounter Makes Wild Wishes® Come True

Reannah Hollaway was hesitant to put the piece of raw chicken in her hand.

“It feels gross,” she said.

But as she brought the chicken toward the fence and a Florida panther gently took it, a big smile came across her face.

“Wow, I just fed a panther!”

Lauren Scott was up next and was blown away the Florida native cat not only took the food but gave her a “high-five”.

Lauren gets to feed a panther with the help of Bertie Broaddus.

“Amazing,” she said.

These encounters were part of a special Wild Wishes® project at Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

A Florida panther named “Thatcher” checks out the visitors at Bear Creek Feline Center.

Wild Wishes® grants wildlife encounters for children who have a terminal or critical illness or have lost a parent or sibling. It’s a project of Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® based out of Pinehurst, TX (Orange area).

Since 2014 the organization has granted 92 of these wishes and also works with children in the foster system and families who have children struggling with various issues.

“This was a very special encounter because these two girls have been part of our program for a year and a half. They are both volunteering as interns this summer, and this was the big send-off before college classes begin. We have been teaching them how to promote wildlife conservation, and this is an incredible inspiration for them,” said Lisa Moore, co-founder of Wild Wishes® and Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center®.

The other co-founder, her husband Chester is an award-winning wildlife journalist and said the story here is the ability to learn about wild cats so intimately.

“These girls got to interact with Siberian lynxes, Florida panthers, bobcats and servals and each time Jim and Bertie Broaddus educated them about these great animals and their place in the wild,” Moore said

“Since coming into our program Reannah changed her major to wildlife conservation and Lauren is getting an education degree to become an elementary teacher. We believe they will have a major impact on wildlife and wildlife education in the future and a catalyst for that will be these experiences.”

Bear Creek Feline Center is one of the few facilities in America to house jaguarundis.

Sometimes called the “otter cat” because unusual, low-profile look, these cats were of particular interest to the girls and they spent extended time photographing them.

One of the jaguarundis at Bear Creek Feline Center.

“The photos will be used for future writings and social media activity where we will not only mention this great facility but also the conservation status of jaguarundis, which is a bit mysterious. We think featuring them will be an engaging way to educate people about wild cats in the Americas,” Chester said.

Safe, interactive wildlife encounters are crucial to inspiring people to appreciate wildlife and become advocates for species and habitat conservation.

“We’re appreciative of our partners at Bear Creek Feline Center for helping us take our mentoring program to a new level and for in a big way make Wild Wishes® come true for some special young ladies,” Lisa said.

In a technology-driven world where man seems to get more disconnected to nature by the day, opportunities like this can cause one to pause and ponder Creation.

Sure, the girls might have been taking cell phone photos of the cats and posting to Instagram, but they exposed people to wildlife in inspiring fashion in the process.

That’s a win for wildlife and young people facing challenges alike.

To connect with Bear Creek Feline Center click here.