GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four days after Artemis the bobcat escaped from the Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, her keepers continue their search, fearing an incoming snowstorm could pose a threat.
“We continue to set live traps around the property and we’ve seen some sightings, or rather we’ve had sightings come into us, but not a ton of them,” Blandford CEO and President Jack Woller said Tuesday. “A lot of them we think are just large house cat tracks.”
The 8-month-old bobcat, too young to be considered a threat to humans, has become a bit of an escape artist, both times leaving behind her brother, Apollo.
The last time on New Year’s Eve.
This time, staff believes she somehow unhooked a latch inside the enclosure, which resembles a tool shed, then squeezed through the gate of the fence that surrounds it. They’re not sure how.
“We’re also asking those questions but the enclosure is certified by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and had to be inspected by the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) before the bobcats were added to our permit,” Woller said.
Artemis and her brother are orphans, their mother hit by a car up north this spring.
They were among a handful of animals living full-time at the nature center.
But the bobcats never learned to hunt in the wild, leading to fears Artemis might not survive on her own, especially with the impending storm.
“These bobcats didn’t have the opportunities to learn those survivable hunting skills,” Woller said.
They also fear she could get hit by a car.
Pat Rapolevich posted photos on Facebook a few days ago of what appear to be bobcat tracks, among the other tracks that crisscross her yard next to Blandford.
“They were like 2 inches across with kind of a shadow track behind them,” she said. “How do we prove it? I don’t know.”
In the meantime, she occasionally leans out her back slider, hoping to spot the elusive cat:
“I get up and I look out the window and I go, ‘Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.'”
While the search continues, Artemis’s brother is staying temporarily at the John Ball Zoo. Next week, a fencing company is expected to repair the Blandford enclosure to make it escape-proof, Woller said.
Blandford Nature Center is asking people to report any sightings of Artemis to the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3400. Do not attempt to capture her.