Children's book chronicles the life, and near death, of Belle the bobcat

News-DemocratJanuary 22, 2014 

Anyone who has followed the saga of Belle the bobcat will already know what's coming at the end of the new children's book "The BIG Surprise."

Connie Yordy, a sixth-grade teacher at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, has written the book about the injured bobcat that was rehabilitated at Treehouse Wildlife Center in Dow, Ill., and surprised everyone by producing a cub.

The book is intended to raise money for the wildlife center.

Belle first came to my attention back in March 2012 when she was rescued after being struck by a vehicle on Town Hall Road near Belleville.

Mike and Annie Neiner called to tell me about the injured bobcat.

Annie said she was driving to work at nearby Allsup Inc. when she saw what she at first thought was a raccoon on the road. Then she realized it was a bobcat.

She called Mike to go and take care of it.

She received an email from him shortly after saying he had it in their garage.

"I wondered why would he pick up a dead cat and put it in the garage?" she said.

That was the first surprise. Belle, as she later was named, wasn't dead, but she was seriously knocked out.

Mike called Treehouse Wildlife Center, which sent someone who picked up the animal and took it to a veterinarian, then took it to the shelter.

It was only a couple of days later that the animal came to. The center watched it closely for residual damage. None was apparent.

It was a couple of months after that that the big surprise appeared. Even though Belle had been X-rayed when she was brought in, it didn't show that she was pregnant. She produced her cub, Bobbie.

But even then it was a couple of days before Belle, a secretive bobcat by nature, let them see the cub.

Belle got better and Bobbie grew and the pair were released into the wild in Monroe County in October 2012.

Yordy said she dedicated the book to the Neiners for their support of wildlife. She presented them with a copy of the book at their home Tuesday night.

Cover art for the book is by Renee Middendorf and it contains photos of the bobcats by Jennifer Yordy and Sherri Medley as well as a couple of shots Mike Neiner took of the unconscious cat.

The book will be available at Wild Birds Unlimited in the Schnuck's shopping center in Swansea in the next couple of days. It also is for sale at Treehouse Wildlife Center for $12.

Another book Yordy wrote about a different Treehouse denizen called "The Bird with No Name," also will be for sale.

The bird with no name was called so because it was so difficult to deal with that no one wanted to name it. Only after a parrot trainer tamed it did it become called Einstein, because the trainer said it learned so fast.

Treehouse founder and director Adele Moore was responsible for the name.

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