Jekyll Island Authority and Jacksonville Zoo Save Bobcat

Jekyll Island Authority and Jacksonville Zoo Save Bobcat

A bobcat is released after being treated on Jekyll Island.

An injured bobcat on Jekyll Island was saved by the teamwork of wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Terry Norton of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Animal Health Center.

The situation unfolded late in the afternoon on Sept. 24, when Joseph Colbert, Jekyll Island Authority wildlife manager, received a telephone call on the Jekyll Island Wildlife Hotline.

“Our Guest Information Center called and said someone found an injured bobcat,” Colbert said. “It’s surprising, because we don’t know a lot about these animals, they are rarely seen, and we have only recently learned that they’ve established a small population on Jekyll.”

Colbert contacted his colleagues, Jekyll Conservation Land Manager, Yank Moore and Jekyll Conservation Director, Ben Carswell, who followed a little-used trail to find the injured cat.

“We quickly made the decision to give it space,” said Carswell. “It was obviously in trouble, but still too active to safely capture.”

Moore and Colbert, along with veterinary staff from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, returned to the site the next morning to find the bobcat had moved itself a few feet away, but still could not move its hind legs.

Norton contacted the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and was able to reach out to their veterinary team for assistance.

Upon arrival at zoo’s Animal Health Center, the bobcat was covered in ticks and unable to stand or walk. The ticks were removed and medical tests were conducted.

No apparent breaks or injuries were discovered on the cat.

Dr. Meredith Persky with the Jacksonville Zoo, reportedly made a diagnosis of tick paralysis.

Treatment and supportive care was administered and the bobcat reportedly improved within 48 hours. By the end of the week, the cat was walking and eating. Blood tests later confirmed Dr. Persky’s diagnosis.

The Jekyll Island Authority and Jacksonville Zoo collaborated on diagnosis and treatment decisions throughout the animal’s stay in Jacksonville.

“The collaboration between the zoo and JIA team, lead by Dr. Norton, was phenomenal,” Carswell said. “Working together, we were able to navigate a successful course of treatment. We also documented the first known case of tick paralysis in a bobcat.”

The bobcat, affectionately named Bullwinkle by Jekyll staff, was fitted with a radio collar sourced from Kiawah Island’s bobcat research program that will allow the Jekyll Island Conservation staff to track its movements.

The cat has been transported back to Jekyll Island and released near where it was found.