ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A baby bobcat found on the side of the road and dropped off at an Orlando fire station is healthy and should return to the wild soon, according to wildlife officials.
Kelly Verduin with Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge said the facility took in the two-week old female bobcat on Thursday.
She said a man dropped off the wild animal at Orlando Fire Station No. 7 after he found it on the road near State Road 408 and John Young Parkway. The man thought the animal was a baby cheetah.
The Fire Department said the firefighters thought it was a cat.
"They started doing some research and found out that they did indeed have a baby bobcat," Verduin said.
The baby bobcat is now being rehabilitated at the wildlife refuge. She is being kept alone in a box in a quiet room surround by fur, which Verduin said mimics the baby's mother.
Verduin said the facility is trying to limit interactions with the animal so she doesn't imprint on humans.
"The more we handle her, the less likely she is of having a chance of surviving in the wild and the more likely she has the chance of perhaps having to live in an enclosure for the rest of her life," she said.
Verduin said it is unclear how the baby ended up on its own.
"My best guess is based on the fact that she just opened her eyes, she doesn't look terribly dehydrated, or that she had been away from mom for very long time at all that it's very likely the citizen found her and immediately brought her to the Fire Department," Verduin said.
The facility said the baby bobcat is healthy. Wildlife officials are now looking for another bobcat with whom she can be raised.
"The ultimate goal will be to place her with another bobcat so that she can grow up. She has to know what she is, so it's really important for all wildlife when we raise them that they grow up with another of the same kind," Verduin said.
The facility hopes to release the baby bobcat back into the wild when she's 4 to 5 months old.
"She has a life. She has a chance. That citizen was able to provide that for her in the event that she may have really well been abandoned," Verduin said.
For tips on what to do if you see a sick, injured or orphaned animal, click here.