DOB 9/15/07 (est.) - 1/24/08
Arrived at Big Cat Rescue 10/5/07
When Kennedy was a young cub, about six to eight weeks old, he was hit by a car while trying to cross the road. A witness to the event took the injured kitten to a nearby animal clinic that in turn contacted Big Cat Rescue. In October of 2007 Rescuers drove across the state to Merritt Island, where the clinic was located. The young Bobcat was named Kennedy, due to the proximity to the Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy suffered severe brain damage that resulted in a month of intensive care. He often had seizures and had to be force fed three times a day. After many weeks of recovery, Kennedy recovered almost completely. He still has limited vision with one of his eyes. Due to the daily hands on care that Kennedy required, he became too accustomed to humans and will not be a candidate for release back into the wild. Whenever BCR rescues a native Bobcat, every effort is made to come into contact with the cat as little as possible so that release will be an option. We are saddened that Kennedy is not a candidate for release, however he will be provided a permanent home at the sanctuary. Kennedy is being raised together with Will, another bobcat similar in age. Hopefully the two will bond with one another.
The following was his rescue story:
Within minutes of a call coming in from a veterinarian on the Spacecoast, Jamie and I were racing cross country to save a baby bobcat. The vet explained that a man had seen a car hit the baby bobcat and he scooped up the unconscious kit and pulled into the first clinic he could find. With legs splayed in every inconceivable direction and blood pouring from the kitten’s nose, no one expected him to survive the night…
But he did. Barely regaining consciousness the cub showed no sign of being able to see or hear but he struggled desperately to walk. He had to catch up to his mom. She couldn’t be far ahead.
When he was still alive the following evening and the blood loss had slowed to a trickle from his nose, the vet called Big Cat Rescue to see if we would come get him. It would be an eight hour round trip in the middle of the night and the vet’s description of his condition didn’t sound promising, but we had to try.
On the long trip to Merritt Island I thought about the vet’s description of the kitten’s determination to take off walking, even though he was walking into walls and getting stuck in corners of her office. What possessed him to overcome his body shattering impact with a car and try to keep on going? She had said he was a kitten, so I figured he must have been trailing his mom at the time of the impact. She said he was emaciated and he was struck on the main road, near the bridge that connects Merritt Island to the Florida mainland.
Knowing that extinction rates on islands far exceeds that on larger land masses it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with rampant development in Merritt Island there was probably not a sufficient prey base left for a mother bobcat to feed herself and her young. She and her babies were starving and her only option would have been to pack up the kids and go…but they were too big to carry and too small for this kind of daring travel.
She would wait until dark and then bolt from brush along the road across the bridge to better hunting grounds. No doubt her heart was racing because she knew the dangers and I could imagine the tremble in her call as she urged her little ones to hurry across the road. I shuddered at what she must have witnessed when her smallest and weakest kitten disappeared under the wheels of a car. The sickening sound of the impact with his fragile little body. The horror of seeing him flattened and bleeding and even worse to see a dreaded human scoop him up and drive him away.
I thought about my own family, and my extended family of staff, volunteers and staunch supporters. Despite the fact that they are all overworked and underpaid doing the work of angels in caring for the abandoned and abused, I keep urging them forward to take greater risks to end the trade in wild animals. The twenty billion dollar trade in wildlife is now second only to the illegal trade in narcotics and many of the same gun and drug dealers are involved in both the legal and illegal trade in lions, tigers and other exotic animals.
As we at Big Cat Rescue press forward for laws that protect the animals we are targeted by the vengeance of those who have been profiting on the trade and the delusional who support that trade because they define themselves by the type of animal they hold captive. They are a dangerous lot who threaten me and the ones I love but great rewards only come to those who take great risks. Just like the mother bobcat and her kits we are firm in our belief that there is a better world on the other side of the battlefield. There is a world where we all live free and respect each other’s place on this glorious planet. All we have to do is bridge the gap in the minds of men.
Jamie named the bobcat kitten Kennedy, not only because of his close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center but also because his strong will to live is inspirational. Just like a President inspired a nation, this little bundle of determination will inspire those who take the first steps in faith. Like Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”
On January 23, 2008 Kennedy was found acting strange. He was taken into the West-Boensch Cat Hospital on-site and evaluated by our vet, Dr. Liz Wynn. Determining that he had suffered a seizure, she put him on valium to help ease him through the day. He had a series of small seizures, despite the calming medication, so he was kept inside over night. Kennedy's version of a seizure would often be to walk in circles, incessantly and although his eyes respond to light, he would walk into walls as if he couldn't see. The drugs helped him sleep it off when he was in such a state. Unfortunately, Kennedy suffered a much stronger seizure than ever before this night and died.
Like the man Kennedy was named for, his time here was cut short, reminding us just how precious and fleeting life is. If there is anything we could learn from his brief time here it would be to keep moving forward, even when we cannot see the way. His soft whisper from the other side tells us to believe in ourselves, to be fearless and to know that only love is real. All else in our "reality" is just an illusion.
You can watch a mini movie of Kennedy, the baby bobcat at http://www.bigcatrescue.org/video/00173.htm
If Kennedy the baby bobcat touched your heart today, take a few minutes and show her that your love is unfailing by sending a letter to your lawmaker asking for better protection for the cats here: www.CatLaws.com
TRIBUTES FOR KENNEDY
I remember when Scott opened the doors of the hospital to allow Kennedy to feel the warm sun and fresh air. I sat with him and watched in amazement at how he intently focused on the peacocks as if to say "just give me a second with one of them!" I'm happy he got to spend time with Will, another "Rehab Bob." They were both orphaned and became kindred spirits.
He passed away too early in his life…he was a baby. As volunteers at Big Cat Rescue, we all know the inconsolable sadness of losing an animal. We know that, at any time,one of our "favorites" might pass away. It doesn't stop us from loving and giving "our all"……..Barbara, Volunteer Senior Keeper
It’s always sad when we find that a young cat we rescue can not be released due to insurmountable physical conditions. A long life in captivity is something we never want for any of these animals. But, sometimes it’s just unavoidable and we hope to make it the best life we can. That was the case with Kennedy and Will. These 2 orphaned bobcats would never have survived in the wild, but at least they would have each other for company here at BCR……or so we thought.
For months, we watched Kennedy overcome amazing odds, despite our doubts. He spent so much time in our hospital with our staff devoting everything they could in order for him to survive. Miraculously, he seemed to turn the corner and was doing so well. He and Will had moved into a wonderful cat-a-tat, loved sleeping up in their tree dens, playing with their toys, interacting with their keepers. There was talk of one day putting them together with our other orphaned bobcats Ana, Moses, and Bailey……a new “pride.” I guess naively, we were lulled into thinking Kennedy and Will would live happily ever after.
And then, suddenly, our dream ended. Succumbing to a major seizure, Kennedy was gone. The shock and grief is incredible, for us as well as Will. Everything we hoped for them gone in an instant. I am from the generation who witnessed President Kennedy’s death. How ironic that this little namesake was taken away before his time, too?
The losses never get easier to handle, even when we haven't known
them all that long -whether it's an injured coyote for a day, a bobcat
for several months, or a tiger for years and years. I keep waiting for
my skin to get thicker, my heart to get hardened to it, but I guess I'm
finally coming to terms with that being part and parcel of just who we
are and what we’re called on to do. Even though Kennedy was only with
us a short time, I know he enjoyed his life with reckless abandon. We
gave him love and everything else we possibly could. Sleep tight,
little boy…….Julie, Volunteer Senior Keeper