“Over-the-moon thrilled:” Ollie the bobcat, who escaped Smithsonian National Zoo FOUND
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ollie once was lost, but now is found.
The reportedly shy, quiet — but clearly rebellious — bobcat escaped her feline enclosure Monday, January 30th, only for her adventure to be jeopardized on Wednesday when a visitor spotted her walking past the Smithsonian National Zoo’s bird house.
“I was over-the-moon thrilled,” Craig Saffoe, the curator of great cats, said about Ollie.
The frenzy over Ollie’s disappearance — and recovery — reached such a fever pitch in Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s communications staff even used it as an email subject line to highlight an interview he did in support for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
Her very public walk on the wild side began on Monday at 10:40 a.m. when zoo keepers called the bobcats for their morning feeding and Ollie did not appear. They determined she had escaped the closure sometime after 7 a.m. ET.
“She’s definitely a little more standoffish … not the type of cat to walk up to you,” Saffoe said, indicating the bobcat’s surly nature will keep her from confessing.
On Tuesday, the zoo sent out the cavalry for a full-on search, which triggered many Washingtonian’s memory of the hunt for Rusty, the renegade red panda, who scampered off in 2013 only to be found safely in Adams Morgan.
But the team of keepers, zoo police and the DC Humane Rescue Alliance looked for Ollie to no avail, despite fielding numerous tips from the public who reported spotting her in a number of neighborhoods surrounding the zoo.
By Wednesday afternoon, the search was called off. Officials said they were hopeful that she was OK — especially if she made it to Washington’s Rock Creek Park, a veritable playground for an adventurous feline of her stature.
Zoo staff did not have long to mourn her loss, however. Working on a tip, after the formal search was ended, keepers set up a live trap near — where else — the zoo’s bird house.
Shortly thereafter — success.
“She ate a couple of goodies and left a lot of goodies sitting in the crate,” Saffoe said. “She was ready to come home.”
The zoo staff said they were incredibly happy to have her back.
“When you find a member of your family, or somebody who’s been missing, it kind of fills you with joy, with crazy joy,” Saffoe said.
Ollie’s enclosure is already being prepped for her return, with keepers going over how to increase security and prevent a subsequent adventure.
As for Ollie, she’s considered none the worse for wear, despite a small cut on her front left paw that zoo officials said was so minor it would not require treatment.
A war wound to regale her pals about, from the time she got away.