KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Officials at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium revealed 18-year-old Kirby the bobcat died peacefully in his sleep Thursday morning surrounded by staff in his enclosure.
“At 18 years old, Kirby lived a full and healthy life, far outliving the average lifespan of bobcats in the wild,” the release stated.
“Since Kirby was raised in captivity, he was always friendly with staff and even playful at times,” the release continued. “He was very vocal with his caretakers, always letting them know how he felt. He loved to meow at feeding time, especially when he smelled some of his favorite foods.
“Kirby was known to appreciate his solitude, often shying away from large crowds. This made Kirby’s public appearances all the more valuable to those park guests fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of him.”
Kirby was rescued from Greenleaf State Park in Oklahoma when he was just 5 weeks old. He and his brother, Hoover, both lived with toxoplasmosis as kittens, resulting in partial vision loss in Kirby. He made his way to Bays Mountain in 2010 from the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch in Texas.
“While Kirby’s large personality can never be replaced, the park will begin the search to find a bobcat in need of a new home to live in Kirby’s now vacant enclosure,” the release stated.