KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After the death of 18-year-old bobcat Kirby, officials with Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium were happy to announce Monday that they will have an easier time finding a replacement thanks to a timely donation.

Following the announcement of Kirby’s death by park staff in March, Miss Tri-Cities Teen 2022 winner Nia Ailshie knew she needed to get involved with the park’s search. She had grown up seeing the bobcat, and the last thing she wanted was for a new generation of kids to miss that experience.

“I had always been going to Bays Mountain with my family when I was little,” Ailshie said. “I have very vivid memories of walking around the park with my brothers, looking at all of the different kinds of animals. A few months ago, when I read in the paper that Kirby passed away, I was deeply moved and was like ‘I want to do something about it.'”

So Nia got to work: $3,000 worth of work, apparently. In a donation ceremony Monday, Alshie gave the park all of her fundraising proceeds to help ease the transition of the next cat to occupy Kirby’s enclosure.

Staff are still looking for the park’s perfect match as of June since the supply of bobcats largely relies on national rehabilitators and zoos. Until then, park naturalists will plan for their arrival.