80°Mostly Cloudy

Ollie the Bobcat still missing, Authorities looking in Woodley/Cleveland Park

by Prince Of Petworth January 31, 2017 at 10:41 am 28 Comments

Ollie courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The National Zoo updates:

“The female bobcat, Ollie, who escaped from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo yesterday has not returned to her enclosure. The Zoo received several calls from the public overnight with consistent information indicating she may be in the Zoo’s adjacent Woodley/Cleveland Park neighborhoods. Early this morning, the Zoo dispatched a team comprised of zoo keepers, zoo Police and DC Humane Rescue Alliance who are currently searching in these areas.

No one should approach the bobcat if she is spotted. The public should note the time and exact location of the bobcat and call 202-633-7362. There is no imminent danger to the general public. Bobcats are not known to be aggressive to humans.

The approximately 25-pound bobcat likely climbed through a small opening in the mesh net that encloses her habitat. The industrial grade mesh measures 2 inches by 2 inches. During an inspection yesterday, keepers noticed that one piece of the mesh was broken forming a larger hole, approximately 5 inches by 5 inches. Ollie is an adept climber and would have been able to climb and crawl through the hole.”

  • jcm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she just moved into Rock Creek Park. There’s plenty for her to eat there, and we’re well within their historic range.

    • KenyonDweller

      I’m rooting for Ollie.

  • Benzino

    keep your dog on its leash today!

  • GBinCH


    • Hill Denizen

      haha, I was going to say the same thing, though mine went more like, “KITTIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”

      • GBinCH

        They say not to approach her, but she looks so cuddly! It would be so hard to resist.

  • Lamenteuse

    Yeesh, someone just needs to get out a laser pointer toy.

  • wdc

    25 pounds? Not much bigger than New Baby Kitty!

  • Traveler

    Ollie is one fine specimen! What a beautiful animal!

  • dcd

    Has someone checked her trolly? She’s probably grabbing a bite there.

    • JMo


  • textdoc

    I hope they find her soon!

  • Ally

    Is it possible for the zoo to put trackers on some of the animals more prone to escape? Not sure if they can do something tiny like how microchipping works for pets, but it seems like that would save a lot of time if it’s possible.

    • wdc

      GPS trackers are much bigger than microchips, which are passive. You have to scan them to get info. So if someone brings a chipped zoo animal into a vet with a scanner, you’re good. You know where to return the bobcat or red panda or whatever.
      The smallest GPS tracker I’ve seen is 2-3 times the size of a fitbit. They put them on hunting dogs.

      • Ross

        Yeah, GPS trackers are possible, but the animals often protest when you have to change the batteries. Can you imagine putting two AA batteries up a cat’s butt???

    • Morton

      Yes, that way when someone finds Ollie and takes her to the New York Ave shelter, they can scan her and see that she is owned by the National Zoo…

      In all seriousness, traditional wildlife tracking collars are pretty beefy as they require a power source, whereas a chip is passive and only supplies info when scanned.

    • Rich

      How do you judge “prone to escape”? It’s a low probability event and probably not species dependent. the idea we should use technology to solve problems involving infrequent events no matter how useless it may be in practice seems to be a theme here.

      Bobcats have a very distinctive call (kind of like a cross between an ambulance and a buzz saw). My guess is that the noise she makes will be a more effective way to track her than microchipping every animal in the zoo.

      Given all the noise she has to tolerate (visit the Zoo on a weekend), i think she deserves the break.

      • wdc

        Also, she’s probably really tired of Purina Bobcat Chow. She just wants a few squirrels, ok?

      • Anon

        Full vetting with a psychological evaluation to calculate their flight risk, obvi. Our zoos need strong borders and extreme vetting. Just look at what is happening at zoos all over Europe and, indeed, the world- a horrible mess!

  • ET

    Wonder if anyone is going around the area saying “Olly olly oxen free” (kidding)

  • Count Pheasant

    Somehow this has become the story I really needed this week. #FreeOllie

  • neighbor

    I hope they never find her, and she enjoys her freedom. She was wild-born so she’ll probably be fine.

  • pcojt

    I’m assuming she was born in captivity with all meals given to her, but if anyone knows enough about felines, would instinct take over and she would actually be able to hunt for food? Would be pretty sad if she escaped and then starved.

    • KenyonDweller

      My house cat is quite adept at hunting, so I have no doubt that Ollie will be just fine.

    • Rich

      She was orphaned in the wild.

    • Ms. D

      Eh, my dog was born in a puppy mill and spent his entire life as a dog who spent all but walks/potty breaks inside a home (I adopted him after his original owner, who bought him from the puppy mill, turned him into the rescue). He’s still killed multiple small animals in the yard (birds and squirrels). He’s a mini schnauzer mix, and mini schnauzers were bred to mouse barns. I didn’t teach him that (OMG NO! He brings the carcasses to me, and I SO do not want that!), he just does it.

  • Reality

    I have a friend who spotted her in Cleveland Park – she called police and zoo but she was gone by the time they arrived!

  • Gina Gamba

    I checked with Carole Baskin from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL, a highly reputable rescue organization. Carole said, “Bobcats don’t want anything to do with you, your kids, or your pets. You will never see the cat, because they are experts at living around people and no one ever knowing they were there. They are great at keeping vermin in check who are usually carriers of disease and rabies, while they themselves almost never contract it.” They are probably better off looking in Rock Creek Park, but we have little to fear from Olly. Just expect a drop in rats and other rodents. Bobcats are nature’s best unsung pest control.


Subscribe to our mailing list