A Little Time and a Keyboard: Bobcats Backstage at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, IL

Bobcats Backstage at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, IL

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cosley Zoo sign in Wheaton, IL

A couple of months ago, we visited Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, IL and enjoyed visiting with their residents -- native wildlife and farm animals of Illinois. During our excursion, we learned about an interactive program at the Cosley Zoo -- Bobcats Backstage. Bobcats Backstage is a unique program that allows families an up close experience observing bobcat training.

Bobcat enclosure at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Illinois
Bobcat enclosure at Cosley Zoo
For our experience, we were welcomed into the bobcat house. The Cosley Zoo has two resident bobcats, Sal and Val. Bobcats are native to Illinois and once were endangered. Due to the work of conservationists and the public, bobcats are no longer endangered in Illinois. Degradation of their environment and their removal as nuisance animals contributed to their decline. Increasing awareness and improving native habitat has helped the bobcats rebound.

Bobcat enjoying treat during training.
Bobcat enjoying treat during training.
Conservation and awareness are two of the main missions of the Cosley Zoo. The interactive, behind-the-scenes experience with bobcats gave us an opportunity to talk directly with zookeepers and learn about bobcats, how zookeepers train and conservation. Since each session is a limited crowd, you will have ample opportunity to ask your own questions, thus making it a truly incredible learning experience.

After learning about bobcats and conservation, we learned about how they are trained and were able to see training exercises in action. Sal and Val each have their own training exercises that they are learning. They do stay behind their enclosure doors during the training. Each bobcat performs exercises with cues from batons carrying shapes of different colors.

Bobcat training at Cosley Zoo

The training session follows what the bobcats are in the mood to do that day. If they want to walk away from training and go outside, they may. So, the training session flows according to the engagement of each bobcat.

Bobcat training standing on hind legs at Cosley Zoo.

Training is great for bobcats' cognitive development and overall health. The sessions also provide interaction and engagement. The training session was fun to watch and we were amazed by what the bobcats could do!

Bobcats Backstage gives families a great look at bobcat behavior, zoo keeping, training animals and conservation. The program is an incredible learning experience and a fabulous local treasure. Programs like Bobcats Backstage help promote awareness and understanding of native wildlife. I highly recommend the experience!


  • Bobcats Backstage is offered daily 11AM-11:30AM. Arrival is at 10:45AM. 
  • RSVP by signing up at the Gift Shop or calling 630-665-5534.
  • Fee is $18 per person. Admission to zoo is $8 per adult for non residents; free for children.
**Please check COVID offerings and restrictions.

Disclosure: Thank you to the Wheaton Park District and Cosley Zoo for accommodating my visit. My family did receive a complimentary experience. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

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