The folks at Bear Hollow Zoo are mourning the death of Katie, a 20-year-old bobcat that had been battling numerous health issues over the past year, including arthritis and kidney failure.
Katie, a resident of the county zoo at Memorial Park the past 14 years, was euthanized on Friday because her health and quality of life had rapidly declined, according to release from the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department.
“We are all very sad to lose her,” Bear Hollow Zoo Coordinator Kelly Garrison said. “Everyone loved Katie.”
Katie was a Bear Hollow Zoo visitor favorite, oftentimes seen lying on her platform in the summer or hiding in the ivy of her habitat. The average lifespan of wild bobcats is 10 to 12 years, although they can live until their late teens in human care. Katie was born in the wild and found orphaned when she was only a few weeks old in April 1999. She arrived at Bear Hollow Zoo in 2006 because she was too dependent on human care to be released. Last fall, Katie developed kidney failure, which is common in both older domestic and exotic cats. Zoo staff were able to manage this incurable condition with special dietary changes and medications for many months. Recently, Katie started to lose her appetite and have difficulty with her mobility. After confirming the severe progression of her renal failure at the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the difficult decision was made to euthanize her. “These tests confirmed our fears, indicating that her disease stage had advanced,” said Dr. Gregory B. Walth, a resident in Zoological Medicine and Surgery with UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Additionally, she showed signs of calcification of one of her kidneys. The Zoological Medicine service sends its deepest sympathies to all of the Bear Hollow Zoo staff and to everyone whose lives have been touched by this wonderful bobcat.” Bear Hollow Zoo is home to approximately 50 different animal species native to Georgia that have been deemed “non-releasable” due to injury or habituation with humans. The zoo is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and located at 293 Gran Ellen Drive in Athens. The zoo offers a variety of programs and events that focus on Georgia wildlife and its conservation. For more information on Bear Hollow Zoo, visit www.accgov.com/bearhollow or call 706-613-3580.