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Bobcat in Eaton Canyon

Today I’m working on my San Diego Zoo murals. As I was revising my bobcats in each mural, I recalled a day when I was doing prehistoric and native plant research in nearby Eaton Canyon Nature Park for my San Diego Natural History Museum murals. After I had finished my reference photography there, some motion through some bushes caught my eye.

Bobcat walking (shot by excited artist)

At first it looked like the biggest darn tabby I had ever seen. I soon realized it was a massive bobcat — about three times the size of a large house cat, the biggest bobcat I had ever seen.

I still had my camera handy so I snapped a few pictures which I thought you might like to see.

Sorry about the blur in the walking bobcat photo — I was just too dang excited!

Bobcat turns for one last look at me...

10 thoughts on “Bobcat

  1. Bill,

    We can now add bravery to your long list of attributes.

    Bobcats can be pretty dangerous can’t they? I am amazed you were more concerned about getting the pictures than thinking about a plan if it decided to come and play!


  2. Bill,

    Those are beautiful shots especially seeing as they were spontaneous efforts and not planned photos. Did you do any research after capturing these images to get some idea of the size of the population and range of habitat? And did this feline inspire you to buy a really big sling shot…?


  3. Beautiful photos, Bill. It’s great to see animals like this continuing to survive in southern California.


  4. To Rick C.,
    I knew I was in leaping distance of the bobcat. I was very careful in my approach, watching for any sign that it might attack.

    To Rick T.,
    I know that bobcats roam all over their southern California habitat. I have no idea of the numbers, though (I do know that their habitat is disappearing and I doubt that they are as adaptable as coyotes). I know that they generally are shy and try to avoid human contact (for good reason).

    To Andy,
    Seeing animals in the wild is always a huge thrill for me; it’s one of my favorite pleasures in life. I have been nuts about nature ever since I was a little kid. It goes a long way in explaining my trips to Africa, the Galapagos, Antarctica, etc.

    When I was a kid the children’s librarian at the Reseda Public Library used to put holds on my constant checking out of the Herbert S. Zim Golden Nature Guides. “Give some other boy or girl a chance to check them out and read them”, she’d say. I’d patiently (and feverishly) wait two days. “See? No one else checked them out! Now can I get them again?”

    She’d sigh and always relent. “Woo hoo! Another two weeks with them!” I’d think. I’d memorize every fact and pore over every picture. My son Andy was the same way in regards to animals, animal books and animal videos. My son James was like that, too, except about plants. The three of us still love great nature videos like Planet Earth.

  5. Bill,

    This may seem like a silly question, but are you painting the murals at the zoo? Or are you creating them and then they make one of those huge screen transfers to be applied. Just curious.

    And I may have asked before, but do you work 1 1/2 times up, or more on your illos, and murals as well?

    Always interested in details…..Ray always wondered why anyone would be interested in details…he joked one time saying, “You mean you want me to photograph them with a ruler?”


  6. Bill,

    I read that the murals you are working on are for the elephant enclosure. Is that right?
    My girlfriend and I have a special place in our hearts for elephants. Here in Tennessee we have The Elephant Sanctuary, the nations largest natural habitat refugee. She has volunteered there many times. Its over 2,700 acres and is home to 24 elephants. Some of the elephants came from circus shows (which i absolutely oppose) and others came from enclosures that could no longer house them properly.

    One of my favorite elephants to read about at the sanctuary is Tarra. When Tarra was only six months old, she was prematurely weaned and separated from her mother. She was sold to an animal broker who imported her into the United States. Tarra was flown in a small wooden crate from Thailand to California by cargo plane. She spent the next year and a half living in the back of a delivery truck. She lived in the parking lot of a tire dealer store by day, and a single family residential home driveway by night. Shortly after Tarra’s arrival in the USA, the Asian elephant was declared an endangered species, and all future importation of Asian elephants into America was halted. At night, Tarra would etch out drawings on the floor with a rock to pass the time. She performed for 21 years and also became very well known for her ability to paint with watercolors.

    On March 3, 1995, after twenty-one years of entertaining the public, Tarra retired, becoming the first resident of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. She continues to be joined by others of her highly social species were they will live out the remainder of their sixty-plus years together at this natural-habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered Asian elephants.

    A story about Tarra was released many years ago about her new friend, Bella. Apparently, upon arrival the elephants seek out a friend. Once a freindship has been established… they are always together in pachyderm-pachyderm pairs. Its been said its like having a best friend or having someone to relate to. The interesting part of this relationship is that Bella is a dog. Bella is one of more than a dozen stray dogs that have found a home at the sanctuary. Most want nothing to do with the elephants and vice versa.

    Tarra and Bella have been close for years, but no one really knew how close they were until Bella suffered a spinal cord injury. She couldn’t move her legs, couldn’t even wag her tail. For three weeks the dog lay motionless up in the sanctuary office. And for three weeks the elephant held vigil: 2,700 acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner, beside a gate, right outside that sanctuary office and waited. One day the co-founder had an idea to show Bella to Tarra from the Balcony. Bella’s tail began to wag upon seeing Tarra, and they felt they had no choice to bring her down for a visit. The two visited every day until Bella regained her ability to walk again.

    Today, their love and trust is stronger than ever. Bella even lets Tarra pet her tummy with the bottom of her enormous foot. They eat together, the play together, and sleep together. They are inseparable. I saw a video of them running across a field playing together. Its very heartwarming. And though it may seem weird that an elephant and a dog are best friends….. I find it to be a good example that love, friendship, happiness and caring are not exclusive to humans.

    I look forward to seeing photos of your mural upon completion.


  7. “(shot by excited artist)”

    Gave me my LOL for the evening thanks Bill!

  8. Too cool for school, Mr. Stout! Really it’s hard to beat an unexpected encounter with animals in the wild. A safe distance is a good thing of course. Years ago I was driving down some Kansas two lane road when in the distance something large crossed both lanes. I thought it was weird because it was the size of a dog but didn’t move like one. But as you say these babies are bigger than house cats. Took me a little moment to realize it must have been a bob cat.

  9. I’ve got some answering to do!
    To Rick: I’ll be painting the murals at their full size on my front porch. I’ve got a big easel that will support each mural. Once they’re finished, I’ll have them professionally shot, then deliver the high def files to the Zoo. They plan to print them on a huge tile panel and then bake them into the ceramic so that they’ll be pretty indestructible.

    Before working full size, though, I draw them in pencil at a one inch= one foot scale, then work the same small scale in painting the color rough. Once those steps are approved by the Zoo, I’ll work on them at their full size.

    To Lee: Yes, the murals are for the Zoo’s new elephant compound.

    I, like millions of other YouTube viewers, have been astounded by the painting elephant videos. Detractors say, “Well, they were trained to do that.” Well, so was I!

    That’s a great, touching story about Tarra and Bella! Dave Hodge (of WonderFest) allowed me to spend a lot of time with the Louisville Zoo’s new baby elephant. I observed the baby for an entire day, learning lots more about elephant behavior (with many thanks to the zoo’s caring and thoughtful elephant handlers for the information they imparted to me).

    To Matt: Glad I could make you laugh. Making folks laugh (especially my family) is one of things I love most in life.

    To Aaron: Yes, this bobcat was huge — bigger than any I’ve ever seen in a zoo. It calmly strolled past me with what seemed like absolutely cool confidence (while keeping a fairly safe distance).

  10. You should have just used the Universal Kitty Call…..KITTYKITTYKITTYKITTYKITTY.

    It would have came over and acted just like any other feline.

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