Bobcat sighting reported near National Zoo

WASHINGTON — The National Zoo has received calls from the public that the bobcat that escaped Monday may be in an area adjacent to the zoo.

The calls indicated that the 25-pound female bobcat Ollie may be in the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, D.C. schools have canceled recess at 13 schools near the National Zoo, even though zoo officials say the animal poses no danger to humans.

School system spokeswoman Michelle Lerner says the decision to not let students outside on Tuesday was made “out of an abundance of caution.” She declined to comment on how long the policy would stay in place.

Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said she spoke to the school system’s chief operating officer and emphasized that the animal is not dangerous. She says the zoo and the school system will keep in touch as the search for the missing bobcat continues.

On Tuesday, a team from the zoo and the Humane Rescue Alliance was dispatched to search the area where Ollie was reportedly spotted.

The first choice is to catch her in a blanket, said Baker-Masson.

Additionally, they have set up humane traps that look like oversized dog carriers. The Humane Rescue Alliance has darts, as well, but that is not the first choice in catching her, as a darted animal does not go down right away and may run and hide.

Baker-Masson said that if Ollie headed toward Rock Creek Park rather than the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park areas, she may never be found.

Ollie is believed to have escaped through an opening in the mesh around her enclosure Monday morning.

The bobcat was last counted by zookeepers at 7:30 a.m. Monday, but around 10:40 a.m., Ollie couldn’t be found when keepers returned for the morning feeding.

Bobcats are native to North America, including the greater Washington area. They prey mostly on small rodents and birds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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