Update: June 13, 2019, 5:35PM
We now believe that on Monday evening, we experienced a forced and illegal entry at Reflection Riding. Presumably, the young people who trespassed on our property paddled in from Lookout Creek and then illegally entered our boardwalk and the native animal area. They forced entry into the home of our bald eagle Flora Nooga, a federally protected migratory bird. While the eagle is currently unsettled, she appears to be uninjured.
Unfortunately, they also forced their way into the home of our bobcat Evi, who is still missing. We originally presumed she had been trafficked for the illegal exotic animal trade. We now believe Evi fought back against the criminals and was able to escape before she could be stolen. Federal law enforcement is now working the case alongside TWRA. Our top priority is the health and safety of Evi, so if you see a bobcat in the Lookout Mountain area please do not approach, but take a picture of the area (most phones attach GPS coordinates to the photo) and send that photo along with your contact information directly to her keeper Taylor Berry at 423-309-9969.
We have received an overwhelming response from people concerned for Evi who want to aid us in her recovery. We are so grateful for the support of the community in this difficult time and want to thank you for your willingness to help us increase the reward for her safe return. Thankfully, a larger reward does not seem necessary at this time for her return. With the information we have currently, we need to shift toward ensuring Evi’s safe recovery.
Your financial support will allow us to continue to mobilize trained professionals to focus on her recovery, working with law enforcement, and processing any further information that comes in along the way.
Thank you again for this outpouring of support. We are letting the forest calm down in the area where she is presumed for now, and continuing the search tomorrow morning. Evi is an incredibly important part of our community and is greatly missed.
As we said in our previous statement: She would have difficulty successfully surviving in the wild and her survival is at stake. She is not a domestic animal and while she has been imprinted on humans, she does not behave like a house cat and is not suitable as a pet. Holding wildlife such as a bobcat in captivity is also illegal under Tennessee law.
Original statement: June 12, 2019
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center experienced a forced and illegal entry after hours sometime after our regular staff left for the day on Monday and before dawn Tuesday morning. The enclosures for the injured and non-releasable bald eagle and the human-imprinted bobcat both showed signs of a break-in. The bald eagle appears to be unharmed but the bobcat is missing and presumed stolen for the illegal exotic pet trade.
We are offering a $500 reward for information leading to the return of our beloved bobcat. If you have any information on who may have taken her or if you have seen a bobcat, please contact our staff member Taylor Berry who cares for this animal at 423-309-9969.
Bobcats are solitary and normally do not approach people. However, our bobcat is non-releasable and habituated to humans. If you encounter a bobcat, back up and move away slowly. Talk, make noise and do not run away. While we presume the bobcat has been stolen, we are concerned that someone may release her into the wild.
She would have difficulty successfully surviving in the wild and her survival is at stake. She is not a domestic animal and while she has been imprinted on humans, she does not behave like a house cat and is not suitable as a pet. Holding wildlife such as a bobcat in captivity is also illegal under Tennessee law.
We have filed a police report and have consulted with various regulating bodies as well as the National Park Service who patrol the federal land surrounding our property. We have some evidence including photo and video footage and are assisting in every way possible with the police investigation. We go through a rigorous annual permitting process with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and meet all requirements for enclosure standards and safety. Her only suitable home is back in captivity with us. Our bobcat is a wonderful addition to our animal ambassador team and our staff have spent countless hours working with her. We need the community’s support to help locate her and bring her back home to safety.
Again, if you have any information on who may have taken her or if you have seen a bobcat, please contact our staff member Taylor Berry who cares for this animal at 423-309-9969.