dead,but living at home!

best panther
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


In the picture is a pet-his name is Colin.
He is odd kind of a pet. You can’t latch a leash to his collar and take him out riding in a pick up truck or any kind of activity. He stood almost 7 feet tall when he leaned up on your shoulders-you have to lean on a pipe anchored in his concrete floor to be able to stand when he leaned up on you.
He wasn’t my pet-but I stood outside his cage and watched his owner as she stood up with Colin.
He purred. It was just about the most coolest thing to see-this huge animal,dangerous still,purring like some old house cat.

Most of his days were spent laying in his box looking out as he is in this photograph. It was seldom that he paced his 35′ x 35′ enclosure like the other cats that were kept here did. They would have it down like a system,up against the chain links of the cage-back and forth and back and forth,with their faces up against the wire,back and forth-looking out at the distance.
But I never saw Colin do it.
I was told he was more active at night.

The place this guy called home was on a five acre reserve-although deep enough in the woods,too cramped for all the various wild animals that were caged here. It really seemed injustice for them-like a twisted joke…there’s the forest where you ought to be,but this is as far as you go.

The majority of the various cats here came from various foolish rich that believed they could make a pet from a cute little cub-most all of these cats came to the reserve from high scale homes on A1A in South Beach-some would think of it as Miami,same shore. Although illegal-it appears every so often the Florida Fish,Game and Wildlife folks get a frantic call…”our house has been taken over,we are trapped in our bedroom”!
That’s how they end up here.

I’m not sure what would compel some one to go through the efforts to pay for something like this-it has to cross their minds that it won’t be like a Great Dane and lay around in front of the fire place or swimming pool all of its life,but apparently it does not. They grow into what they are-a wild animal who’s instinct it is to mark its territory and you know what that means.

It wasn’t just the rich. There were also numbers of Bobcats which were found as cubs during deer season. Some Buck hunter sitting in tree stand waiting for a doe to come by,bored to tears sees this pair of Bobcat cubs and brings them home. They don’t get as large as Colin,but they still are wild.

There were several of the cats at this reserve (I can’t really call it a preserve) were manageable-and there was nothing to fear from them. I remember a pair of Bobcats that had been raised with dogs-and you could enter their pen and lay on the ground and they would be all over you like curious cats…kind and with out any fear,gentle!
Yet,there were Bobcats there which were as dangerous as if you met them in the wild.

Colin was born in captivity-maybe that’s why he lays in his box all day and looks into the distance. Deep inside he has this instinct that something ain’t quite right-but he just can’t put his finger on it.
He had a sister,she was named Kristen…and she liked me. When I would show up to work there she knew the sound of my Jeep and would start yelling-you could hear her from the road. The lady who owned the place would send me up there first-just to shut her up.
As soon as she saw me she would quiet down and begin that pacing-back and forth.
And you could hear her purr too.

It is such a pathetic thing to see these great animals caged in as they are. It is for their well being now-they could never survive in the wild…although many times we received a Bobcat young enough to instill its old pattern-the natural pattern of killing its own food. Once it did that we were able to release it into the woods,but not the woods near the reserve-because it would keep coming back.

Once I volunteered to bring one home to my area-living next to a state forest of several thousand acres,a Bobcats dream. The lady who ran the place brought out towels and heavy gloves to catch the thing. There were several of us volunteers to supposedly use the towels to try to grab it and transfer it to a portable cage. The Bob was having nothing to do with it…neither was I.
When was giving instructions she used these key words…”hopefully it will work”!
I asked what she meant?
She explained she’s never quite done it that way before.
My instinct was to back away-and let the others make their own decision.
The cat had no desire to be caught….and off the lady went to her office saying over and over that she “hated this”.
She returned with a syringe…and tossed that into the cats rump,and soon it fell asleep.
I’ll never forget that-why she made that critter go through all that excitement when she could have let it relax to begin with.

My sons and I took it back into our forest. It had napped for several hours and by the time we drove it back far enough where it was out of harms way I carried the cage out into a field and opened the door and ran for dear life.
It didn’t budge.
It did after I went up and tapped the cage with my foot-poof….off into the freedom which it deserved it bounded.

I used to work in Jacksonville. It was a two hour drive,so I had to leave in the wee hours of the morning. Every once and a while I’d turn on my headlights to back away from the house and there it would be-sitting on the edge of the yard just close enough.
It must have come back every so often to say thanks.

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