Volunteers go to extremes for baby bobcatsMay 16, 1997
Web posted at: 11:24 p.m. EDT (0324 GMT)
MORGAN HILL, California (CNN) -- Derryn Murchison spends a lot of her time in a tacky-looking cat costume, but fashion is not the point.
She's trying to look as much like a bobcat as she can while she plays mother to a pair of baby bobcats. It's less important that she look exactly like an adult bobcat than it is that she not look like an adult human being. Or any kind of human being, for that matter.
The idea is that the bobcats were born wild animals, and when they're old enough they'll be released into the wild again.
They were brought to the Wildlife Center in Morgan Hill, where volunteers take great pains -- even if it means getting down on all fours -- to raise the cubs as their mother would.
What the volunteers at the center don't want is for the bobcats to get accustomed to humans. The fear is that if they do, they will be unable to survive in the wild.
They're getting pretty good at this at the center. A veterinarian who donates his time gives check-ups to the new arrivals, but he is careful not to befriend them.
Then people like Murchison put on the cat outfit, even rubbing herbs on it to disguise the human smell. Then they feed the cubs and play with them until that day when they are deemed ready to return to their native habitat.
Two years ago, a bobcat named Bobby was released after spending 10 months in the center. He hasn't been seen since.
At the Wildlife Center, that's considered a success story.
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