Wild Bobcat Kittens Roaming UCR Botanic Gardens

By Allyson Escobar |

Two bobcat kittens and their mother have been exploring the grounds at UC Riverside’s Botanic Gardens this week. A brief video shared on the gardens’ social media this week shows one kitten treading carefully on the grounds. “Walk softly and you might see our newest additions,” the caption reads.

The 40-acre botanical gardens, first established in 1963, were reopened to the public last summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. With over 3,500 plant species, multiple themed and horticultural gardens, staff said it is common to find wildlife species roaming about — from birds to raccoons, the occasional rattlesnake to coyotes, mountain lions to the much-smaller bobcats. 

Most of the wild animals in the gardens are passing through from nearby Box Springs Mountain Reserve. Jodie Holt, director of the gardens, said that adult bobcats are known to roam the grounds and neighboring areas, though they usually go about their business and hardly interact with people. Parents often move their babies around. Holt, who has directed the gardens for five years, called the young bobcat sighting “rare” and “remarkable.” 

“I feel so fortunate, especially this past year, to be able to go outside and see everyone working and every living thing,” said Holt. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to provide that kind of space for our visitors. They don’t have to drive hours away to come spend a couple hours here, and feel like they’ve gone a long way.”

Even with all the natural wildlife, staff said, there have been no incidents. Those visiting the gardens are warned to stay vigilant and take precautions, stay on the trails, leave their pets home, and inform staff of any wildlife sightings.

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