In 1970, NMU student government and Student Activities committee funds went to a very real form of school spirit and representation of NMU’s mascot, the Wildcat: a 38-pound, female bobcat was purchased to be held on campus. She was named Bobby (or Bobbie) and lived in an indoor-outdoor cage built into the NMU power plant that was located at the time behind Spooner Hall. Bobby was fed a pound and a half of meat each day from the university’s food service, was potty trained, and was taken to some university sports events as the mascot. In the summer months, Bobby was sent to her original home in Toronto for breeding.
Controversy arose on Halloween 1971 when someone “freed” Bobby by cutting a hole in her cage. She was found near Summit Street apartments and was eventually coaxed into her cage. A note was tied to her neck that said, “Students at NMU, thank you for making my stay in your prison a memoral (sic) one. Perhaps I may be able to repay you somedy (sic) when your (sic) in the woods alone.” This situation with Bobby made people question whether she was being treated adequately in the cage, and there was a number of letters and editorials in the student newspaper expressing that the bobcat needed to be in a better environment.
“Either the university at-large, or concerned alumni and students should be responsible for a decent and healthy living environment for the animal, or Bobbie should be sent to where care is available,” said a Northern News editorial.
In February 1972, Bobby was cut out of her cage again. University officials looked for her for an entire weekend and finally thought they found her in Lower Harbor. They coaxed the bobcat into a cage, took it to a veterinarian to have porcupine quills taken out of it, but then learned that the bobcat they had taken in the cage was actually male and therefore not Bobby. So they let it out in the woods on the Big Bay road.
There isn’t any mention in subsequent newspapers about whether Bobby was found.
Written by Lucy Hough