Evi Came Home!

June 13th, 2019

Evi is home! We'll keep you updated as she adjusts to being back at home. She's lost quite a bit of weight so we'll be watching her carefully and will work to slowly bring her back up to her full healthy weight. 

Evi takes her first bite of food from her keeper Taylor Berry after returning home on Monday morning.

Evi has been hiding out in her cave after unexpectedly having a week in the wild.

Update: June 17, 2019 11:00AM Evi is home! 

She walked into her enclosure a few minutes before 11am this morning. THANK YOU to all who helped in this effort!

Update: June 17, 2019, 10:10AM

We have spotted Evi several times on game cameras and we know that she is eating the food that we put out for her. We're continuing to work to put her and Taylor (her keeper) in contact so that she can return home. 

Reflection Riding received a tip last week from an individual that has helped us determine the identity of at least one of the two suspects in this case and that tip also led us to believe that Evi is in the nearby forest. At that time, we changed focus from trying to find an individual holding her captive to trying to find her in the forest surrounding our property. 

We are currently gathering more information and working with the Chattanooga Police Department, the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and TWRA as we work toward an arrest.

As we've stated several times previously, we do not consider Evi a threat to humans. She will probably not approach you, but she will also not run away like a truly wild bobcat would. Taylor Berry, her handler, has spent countless hours searching for her. We are excited to know she is not being held captive or entered the exotic pet trade, but we must still get her safely back to our facility. As Taylor explains it, “we’re so close in getting her back and yet so far.” At this time, we do not need search volunteers. More people in the woods may spook Evi. 

Evi is habituated to humans. She is not a threat to people, but does not have all the skills she needs to be successful in the forest. We're hoping for her return as soon as possible. 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.

Help us bring evi home.

Your financial support will allow us to continue to move trained staff to focus on her recovery, working with law enforcement, and processing any further information that comes in along the way.

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.

Posted by Mark McKnight

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