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Review: 'The Blood Jaguar', by Michael H. Payne

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'The Blood Jaguar'I already reviewed this in Yarf! #56, January 1999. But The Blood Jaguar is a good enough novel that I am glad for an excuse to read it again, especially when this edition has eight new full-page illustrations by Louvelex (Lauren Henderson).

Michael H. Payne has been writing his “Around About Ottersgate” tales since at least May 1989, when the short story version of “Rat’s Reputation” appeared in FurVersion #16 (reprinted in my Best in Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction anthology in 2003).

After several more “Ottersgate” short stories appeared in s-f magazines and anthologies during the ‘90s, Tor Books published The Blood Jaguar as Payne’s first novel, in hardcover in December 1998. Tor reprinted it in paperback in September 1999 (with a better cover by Julie Bell), but apparently it did not sell well enough for Tor to buy Payne’s sequel.

Now Sofawolf Press has reprinted The Blood Jaguar as an attractive trade paperback with a third cover and interior artwork, and will soon publish the original sequel, a fixup novel of Payne’s “Ottersgate” short stories, also titled Rat’s Reputation.

Sofawolf Press, June 2012, trade paperback $15.95 (vii + 217 pages). Illustrated by Louvelex.

Wildlife centre uses animal costume to rehabilitate bobcats

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Bobcat costume and kittenThe Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Centre at Morgan Hill, California, has an unusual method of preparing orphaned bobcats for reintroduction to the wild. In a technique similar to that employed in Giant Panda conservation, bobcat "mommy" Colleen Grzan wears a full-body costume when interacting with the cats.

Grzan teaches the bobcat kittens to socialize, and encourages bobcat behavior such as hunting and stalking. The bobcat costume ensures the cats will not become accustomed to humans, so they will stay clear of them once released into the wild.

To aid realism, Grzan masks her human scent by rubbing herbs over her clothes and hair; the costume itself is scented with bobcat urine. She wears heavy gloves and remains silent when crawling around with the kittens.

At present, WERC is looking after three bobcat orphans, who will be returned to where they were found at around nine months of age.