Wildwood Zoo Announces Arrival of New Wild Cat

Bobcat to Join Lynx at Wildwood Zoo

Lexi the Lynx will no longer be lonely in her enclosure at Wildwood Zoo. Joining her is new bobcat, “Bets,” a 9-year-old male transferred from Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo, WI.

Though officially welcomed on October 27, there were weeks of “meet and greets” between the two felines before zoo staff were comfortable allowing them to cohabitate.

“Since he arrived last week, we have been slowly introducing them,” said Zookeeper Steve Burns. “We let them kind of gradually get to know each other’s scent.”

After the cats adjusted to the other’s scent, staff opened a series of gates so that just one fence separated them. That way, they would have contact through the fence, but distance if they wanted it. Then, starting on Monday, the cats were let outside for the first time together.

“Staff was on hand to monitor how that introduction went,” said Burns. “It went extremely well, so we were able to fast track our introduction.”

For two days, the felines have been outside together all day long, but they are still kept separate at night.

“They have been doing really great together and I have pretty good confidence that they are going to do very well,” said Burns.


Described as a confident, outgoing cat, Bets has already been eagerly exploring his new exhibit and interacting with guests.

“The addition of a bobcat to the exhibit is a great opportunity for our patrons to see a side-by-side comparison of these two closely related species,” said the Zoo in a press release.

“From my standpoint, it’s just a great education tool,” added Burns. “It’s going to be really neat to display the two animals side-by-side and show how closely in appearance they really area and maybe educate people a little more about their natural home ranges.”

Bets the bobcat joins Lexi the lynx at Wildwood Zoo.
Bets the bobcat joins Lexi the lynx at Wildwood Zoo.

Bobcats, sometimes referred to as Wildcats, are medium-sized cats that are typically about twice the size of a house cat. They are the most abundant wild cat species in North America and have the largest geographic distribution. Though bobcats are relatively common predators (estimated population in the United States is about 2.3 to 3.6 million animals and about 2,850 in Wisconsin) they are rarely seen.

Bobcats are most active at night and are extremely elusive. They are very adaptable to a wide range of environments ranging from dense woodlands and swamps to desert. A Bobcat’s usual home range is about 3-5 square miles, although suburban cats might inhabit an area about 20% that size.

Their preferred foods are small mammals and birds; however, they will prey upon animals much larger than themselves. In fact, they can be a significant source of whitetail predation in some of their range.

Bobcat and Lynx are both part of the Lynx family; differences between the two species can be subtle, so people often mistake them in the wild. Here in Wisconsin, residents are relatively close to an overlap in lynx and bobcat ranges. Sighting either is possible, but a lynx sighting in Wisconsin is very rare.

“Wisconsin is right in the heart of bobcat territory, but it would be extremely unlikely to see a lynx in the wild here,” explained Burns.

In fact, the last positively confirmed lynx in Wisconsin was in 1992. Scientists don’t believe there was ever a breeding population of Lynx in the state. Individuals that are sighted are likely traveling south from their usual habitat in search of food.

With this addition, the former Lynx Exhibit will now be known as the Wildcat Exhibit, and can be visited during open hours at the northern end of the core zoo (near the mountain lions).

“At least from the little I’ve seen of the new cat, he’s a really good display animal,” said Burns. “He seems very comfortable in this environment and confident coming right up to the glass when visitors are around. It seems like he is going to be a great addition.”

Zoo hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily through October 31st. Beginning November 1st, the Zoo will begin its Winter Hours of 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. daily.