By Alyssa Mechler

Lee Richardson Zoo is home to animals from all areas of the world; some of those animals we may even be able to find near us! The bobcat is a well-known small feline found across the United States, even reaching into Canada and Mexico. They are well known for their bobbed tails, which is where the name bobcat comes from. 

While the bobcat looks like a lynx, you can distinguish between the two by the bobcat’s smaller feet and shorter ear tufts. Yazi and Cactus are two resident bobcats at the Lee Richardson Zoo, both of whom celebrate a birthday in the springtime.

Birthdays at the zoo are always a special occasion. With Yazi turned eight on April 13 and Cactus turning 19 on May 7, these two celebrated with lots of fun birthday surprises! They received a three-tiered “cake” that featured different tasty frozen treats made specially by their keeper. Their keeper also gifted them some browse (branches other animals munch on) from the giraffes, special scents spritzed throughout their habitat, a large box (cats love boxes), hay, and a couple of tasty mice. Yazi went straight for the ice cake while Cactus was more enthused by the mice. 

While Yazi continued to lick her way to the center of her cake, Cactus opted to take a nice birthday nap, occasionally coming out to check on Yazi. As the day went on, Yazi and Cactus explored more of their birthday gifts, enjoying all the new smells.

Yazi and Cactus’s wild counterparts are often nocturnal, hunting at night for a variety of prey, and will spend most of their day in one of several dens throughout their territory. Yazi and Cactus share a hollowed-out log as their den. Visitors can often find them snuggled up in their log if they are not watching people pass by. Even though the bobcat is not an endangered species, it is important for us to respect them in the wild and keep our distance if we happen to spot one. Make sure to swing by Cat Canyon at the Lee Richardson Zoo to say, “Happy Birthday!” to Yazi and Cactus.

Alyssa Mechler is an education specialist at Lee Richardson Zoo.