The Orlando Fire Department got a furry little surprise Thursday.
A man dropped off a kitten, which he believed was a cheetah cub, at Station 7. The man said he had found the kitten in the area and didn’t know what to do with it.
“Crews were working on finding it a home and potentially contacting Orange County Animal Services when they started Googling ‘baby cheetah’ and realized the kitten had bobcat similarities,” officials said in a news release.
The Fire Department staff called and sent photos to Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center.
The wildlife refuge’s administrative manager drove to the station and confirmed that the feline was a 2-week-old female bobcat.
“Back to Nature has the female bobcat in their care at this time. Full intention is to raise her to be released back into the wild,” the organization said in a statement.
Fire Department officials said residents are bringing in baby animals to Station 7 more often than they did in the past.
Back to Nature said in the statement: “As a wildlife refuge, Back to Nature takes in 3,000 injured or orphaned Florida native wildlife annually. They see (between) 1 to 2 bobcats per year.
“Back to Nature’s mission is to rescue, raise, rehabilitate and release, as well as educate the public through use of our nonreleasable ambassador wildlife residents. The refuge is a public facility, but the bobcat will not be viewable.
“They will do everything they can to avoid her from imprinting on humans. She will eventually be placed and raised with at least one other bobcat for this purpose.
“Bobcats are all over the state and listed as a ‘least concern’ species. They are protected and are not legal to have as pets. Bobcats do adapt to their surrounding areas. They are sometimes spotted in populated areas that are near construction or new development because of being displaced.
“If a citizen spots a displaced, injured, or orphaned wild bobcat, the first thing they should do is contact their local wildlife rehabilitation facility for advice to determine if the animal is in need of rescue. They can also contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.”
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