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Bobcat finds its way home to Tennessee nature center after escaping kidnapper

Chattanooga, Tennessee (WQOW) – A bobcat kidnapped more than a week earlier found its way home after escaping its would-be captor and surviving in the wild for a week.

Evi is a 3-year-old bobcat at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Last week, someone broke into the center, broke a lock with a big rock, and took Evi from her enclosure.

Staff were terrified. “I’ve been getting out around 4 or 5 o clock every morning and not getting home til after dark every night since she’s been gone,” said Taylor Berry, the head trainer. Evi has spent most of her life in captivity, and since she was about six months old, Berry has spent at least an hour a day with her. “Evi is as docile as a wild animal gets.”

Monday morning, after about a week missing, a huge surprise: Evi had made her way home. Programs manager Rosie Lee was giving a tour to some campers when she spotted her. “By the time I got over here Evi had just kind of waltzed into our enclosure, and I was able to just kind of shut the door behind her.”

It’s a huge relief for everybody there. “Tears of joy,” Lee said. Berry almost didn’t believe that she made her way home until he saw for himself. “The bond I have with Evi is something you can’t put into words, honestly.”

Evi was in decent health, although thinner. She normally weighs between 12 and 14 pounds, and had dropped five pounds in the week she was gone. She’s expected to gain that weight back and make a full recovery.

Police believe the kidnappers broke in, took Evi, and Evi was able to fight them off and escape. She then spent a week alone in the wild, eventually finding her way home to her human and animal family at the nature center.

The person responsible is now facing a citation for trespassing and vandalism. He has 30 days to turn himself in to the Hamilton County Jail.

Savanna Tomei

Savanna is the 6 p.m. producer and co-anchor, and also anchors the 10 p.m. newscast.

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