Wild Cats


Our bobcat, Vivi, has her home at the Museum in a forested atrium in the Schnitzer Entrance Hall.

Vivi was raised in captivity in Idaho and had been de-clawed, so she cannot survive in the wild. She was named after Vivi Crandall, a wildlife artist from Casper, Wyoming, who died in 2000.

(The average lifespan of a bobcat in the wild is about 10 to 12 years, but animals in captivity typically live longer when they receive good care and are protected from predators.)

“We are excited to have a bobcat and share the story of this charismatic species,” said Vice President of Programs Dana Whitelaw. “While bobcats are endemic to the High Desert, they are rarely encountered. They can thrive in woodlands and drier desert landscapes, and having a bobcat allows visitors to connect and learn how it can adapt to different habitats, including those inhabited by humans.”

Visitors are invited to learn about wild cats in the High Desert at 12:30 p.m. weekdays at the atrium housing a lynx, beside the bobcat atrium.

Our wild cats are among the most charismatic animals here. Bobcats are elusive and rarely seen in the wild, so the ability to see this native animal close up offers a sense of wonder and excitement about the natural world, a hallmark of the High Desert Museum experience.

Click here to adopt Vivi or Snowshoe!

Our lynx, Snowshoe, was found by a hiker in Castle Crags State Park in Northern California in 2005,  starving, de-clawed and wounded.  After close examination it was even discovered that his canines had been removed. 

He had no chance to survive in the wild.  Based on his size and appearance, he is most likely a captive-born hybrid lynx that had been a house pet.

The Canada lynx is a beautiful North American wild cat that has a short tail, long legs, large feet, and prominent ear tufts. Their large feet act like snowshoes to help them travel on snow. The main food source is the snowshoe hare, which has a direct influence on lynx populations.

Lynx tend to be secretive and nocturnal and are rarely seen in the wild. The Canada Lynx is found throughout Alaska, a few northern states, and Canada, but in the High Desert region, they are found at higher elevations where they prefer dense forests (usually lodgepole pine forests), meadows and rocky outcrops.

Animals at the High Desert Museum:

None of the animals cared for at the Museum can be released to the wild. Most of them were rescued after being injured. Many of the birds cannot fly due to their injuries. Other animals rely on us just to survive because they never learned how to hunt or avoid predators. When people take young animals from their parents, these animals become “imprinted” on humans and can no longer survive in the wild.

The Museum’s wildlife staff works with our animals daily to build their trust. Our animals’ habitats are designed to give them the space and environment they require. This is all a part of the Museum’s commitment to delivering the highest standard of animal care.