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September 6, 2012
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Baby bobcat, Chips, healing well at LTWC

She's gone through fire to get here, but the 8-week-old bobcat, nicknamed Chips by the firefighter who found her, wolfed down her mashed mouse on Thursday at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility as if she were a contented house cat.

Of course, there's not much that's typical about her and she's no domestic kitten. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that members of the Mad River Hand Crew found the apparently abandoned animal on Sept. 1 at the north end of the 74,000-acre Chips Fire in Plumas National Forest.

She arrived at LTWC with second-degree burns on her paws and singed fur, but according to the facility's Executive Director Cheryl Millham, the 1 1/2 pound bobcat is healing well.

She gets 12 mashed mice a day, and time to play in her outdoor cage. She still sleeps in a kennel and receives hands-on-care, but that will change in about two weeks as she continues to get stronger.

"Even at this age in the wild, mom would be eating the food and regurgitating it. So it's not that abnormal," LTWC Secretary and Treasurer Tom Millham said.

"Or rather, it's abnormal for us. Right now she needs a lot of tender love and care. As soon as she's healed, she'll be on her own," he said.

Both Cheryl and Tom Millham said in the 35 years they've operated the facility, they've only seen about six animals survive a fire and end up at their rehabilitation center. Li'l Smokey was one of the notable animals who came to Lake Tahoe after suffering third-degree burns during the Shasta fires in 2008.

"It's very unusual. They usually die in the fire," Cheryl said.

The bobcat will likely be released next year and will either winter at LTWC or another rehabilitation center where she can be paired with another bobcat her age.

To watch Chips and the other animals currently at the facility, check out the live Bear TV webcam footage at

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 6, 2012 06:27PM Published Sep 6, 2012 06:17PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.