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Wildlife Discovery’s Boris the bobcat gifted with new home

Boris Bobcperched atop waterfall his new home Wildlife Discovery Center Lake Forest. Left is Rob Carmichael curator right is volunteer

Boris the Bobcat perched atop the waterfall in his new home at the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. Left is Rob Carmichael, curator, and right is volunteer Steve Ballen of Lake Bluff. | Tina Johansson/for Sun-Times Media

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Located at Elawa Farm along the 670-acre Middlefork Savanna.

1401 Middlefork Drive

Lake Forest

Indoor Exhibits

Tuesday, Friday and Saturday

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(Closed on major holidays)

Outdoor Exhibits

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free for individuals and related families of 8 or less.

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Updated: February 17, 2014 4:06PM

Boris, the darling bobcat of Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, was the center of attention Tuesday as well-wishers gave him a house-warming party.

It was a cold afternoon with temperatures in the 20s, but warm-hearted Boris lovers made it possible for him to move to his new, expanded home. It features among other amenities — a pond with a gurgling water fall, a ramp and a perch.

Boris, looking luxuriant in his thick winter coat, was feted with a lunch of generous portions of sliced raw turkey as the party began. He looked somewhat puzzled, wondering perhaps, what all the fuss was about as a crowd gathered to look him over and to inspect his new home. He then romped happily as if he owned the place, which, of course, he does.

“It’s a big day for us and a dream come true,” said Robert Carmichael, curator of the center that is reputed as a first-class facility of its kind with a collection of 150 animals including snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, owls and a red-tailed hawk.

“We are dedicated to improving the quality of life of the animals kept here to the highest possible level,” he added.

Notable among them are a 250-pound alligator snapping turtle and a crocodile of equal weight, but Boris, as Carmichael took pride to stress, is the poster child. Formerly with a Russian circus, Boris was brought to the center as a rescue animal by Carmichael. He was about one year old then and in deplorable condition. Now, at age 4 and weighing 40 pounds, Boris is healthy, robust and a cool cat.

His new digs, nearly three times the former humble home, was made possible by generous donations from, among others, Richard and Robin Colburn of Lake Forest in the name of the Negaunee Foundation.

“This is a happy ending to a bad start,” said Robin, adding that she and her husband, and investor, are “dedicated to the preservation of natural environment.”

She remembered Boris as “thin, straggly and malnourished” when she first saw him. And what difference love and care has made, she pointed out.

Anneliese Crawford and her husband, Bob, who owns Brook Furniture Rental in Lake Forest, are also generous donors. She is on the center’s advisory board and their son, Peter, 15, has been a volunteer at the center since he was 7.

“We are fans of Boris,” said she.

“I’m glad to help out,” said Janice Johnson of Highland Park, a real estate sales retiree, another happy donor.

Steve Ballen, a certified public accountant, is credited with donating his time as a volunteer and a caretaker for Boris.

“I’m always happy to take care of Boris,” said Ballen as he served turkey to the cat and then played with him gingerly.

The turkey Boris enjoyed came from Trader Joe’s of Northbrook, a regular provider of food for animals at the center. Other area supporters for the home project include Manfridini Landscaping & Design of Highland Park and Kinnucan Tree Experts & Landscape of Lake Bluff.

Come spring, Carmichael promises that tall grass and trees will be planted to duplicate the natural habitat befitting Boris. And he will be spoiled even more with his pond stocked with fish.

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