NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWellington


Big cat spotted roaming in Wellington: What is it?

'It almost looks like a lion to me,' resident says
Posted at 6:35 PM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 18:43:10-04

WELLINGTON, Fla. — The big mystery surrounding a big cat seen slinking around homes, and even a school, in Wellington has many on social media guessing what it could be.

Residents are used to seeing wildlife once in a while in Wellington, but seeing a wild cat this big is unusual.

The photo of the big cat posted on social media this week was shocking to residents. The cat was seen wandering near homes and Binks Forest Elementary School.

"It almost looks like a lion to me," a Wellington resident said.

Residents all had their guesses, from a leopard to a Florida panther.

Zoologist Tabitha Cuellar Palm Beach Zoo August 2023.jpg
Zoologist Tabitha Cuellar explains the behavior of bobcats.

WPTV went to an expert at the Palm Beach Zoo to determine what kind of cat it is.

“I zoomed in on the tail and it's a bobcat," zoologist Tabitha Cuellar said. "They have a very short tail."

Bobcats are between 30 to 50 inches long and weigh up to 40 pounds.

Cuellar showed WPTV the Florida panther they have at the zoo for reference. The endangered cat looks just fine behind the fence.

However, in Wellington, which has it's share of creatures like iguanas and alligators, residents now have bob cats to deal with.

Elba Mendelbaum Wellington resident bobcat.jpg
Wellington resident Elba Mendelbaum shares her concerns of the cat being seen near Binks Forest Elementary School.

"They're everywhere and they're elusive and they don't really want to be seen," Cuellar said. "They're sneaky and they hide in the shadows."

Bobcats are really shy animals that avoid contact with humans, Cuellar said.

The sighting, however, has parents on alert for kids who walk to and from school.

"There's a lot of kids out walking here at dismissal time, so yes it can definitely be dangerous," Elba Mendelbaum said. "I would be scared, of course, who wouldn't."

If you do see the big cat, experts said no selfies for Instagram, just leave it alone.