News & Politics

Some DC Schools Suspend Outdoor Activities Because of Rogue Bobcat

Ollie the bobcat's escape has ruined recess.

Ollie. Photograph by Barbara Statas/Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Ollie the bobcat is still missing from Smithsonian’s National Zoo. In a news release, the zoo says it has received tips from neighbors that suggest the 25-pound cat may be in the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park neighborhoods of Northwest DC. It deployed a search party that includes zookeepers, zoo cops, and members of the DC Humane Rescue Alliance early Tuesday morning.

While Ollie is at large, 13 DC public schools have gone on alert status, “which includes moving activities indoors,”  DCPS spokesperson Michelle Lerner
 tells Washingtonian. The affected schools are Murch, Lafayette, Deal, Hardy, Hearst, Key, Eaton, Janney, Mann, Stoddert, Wilson, Oyster-Adams, and West. “In an abundance of caution, DCPS has explicitly suspended outside play until further notice,” Deal Principal James Albright told parents in an email that describes Ollie as “pretty entrepreneurial.” Albright continues: “The National Zoo is on the edge of our school zone and Ollie is still not found. This stands until further notice is issued.”

Do not approach Ollie if you see her. Bobcats “are not known to be aggressive to humans,” the zoo says, and pose no danger. But still. If you see Ollie, take notes on where and when, and call 202-633-7362.

The zoo also offered more details on Ollie’s escape: She “likely climbed through a small opening in the mesh net that encloses her habitat,” it says, continuing:

The industrial grade mesh measures 2 inches by 2 inches. During an inspection yesterday, keepers noticed that one piece of the mesh was broken forming a larger hole, approximately 5 inches by 5 inches.  Ollie is an adept climber and would have been able to climb and crawl through the hole.  For more about the species, read the Bobcat section of the Zoo’s website.

Washingtonian has skimmed that section of the zoo’s website and can confirm it is very informative.


Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.