2011 photo of bobcat on a saguaro goes viral – again
By Dana Trumbull
Sometimes it’s the little things that capture the imagination and just won’t let go – like a photo of a bobcat perched on top of a 40’ saguaro cactus.
In April, 2011, when Gold Canyon resident Curt Fonger snapped a series of photos and video near (aptly named) Prickly Point Rd. and Cloudview Ave., he had no idea what an impact they would make. The photos found their way to YouTube, and, from there, they quickly went viral. In London, England, they appeared in 345 magazines, newspapers and other media outlets. One of the photos was on the cover of a CD in Argentina. National Geographic used an image in an educational children’s book.
Many colleges and schools (including our own Peralta Trail Elementary School) have used Fonger’s photos to illustrate their bobcat mascots. And a school for individuals with disabilities used one of the photos as a symbol of courage and a reminder to, “Never Give Up.”
Now, in 2019, the photos are gaining new life, as the Cook Museum in Decatur, Alabama, is planning to feature them in their new Desert/Arctic display. They found the photos through Roaring Earth, an online digital content provider that specializes in wildlife photography and videos. That contact led back to Mr. Fonger, who was delighted to share the story. The grand opening for the museum will be June 7.
In April 2011, Fonger received a call from a friend – the owner of Smiling Dog Landscapes – telling him that he and his employees had watched a mountain lion chase a bobcat up a cactus. By the time Fonger arrived with his camera, the cat was lounging comfortably, perched like a furry angel atop a Sonoran Christmas tree.
Employees at Smiling Dog said that the mountain lion had circled the cactus a few times, growling, then lost interest, apparently deciding the bobcat wasn’t worth the prickly climb. The bobcat lingered for several hours, though, sunning, stretching and taking in the view, before leaping off, making a perfect four-paw landing and sauntering off into the Superstition foothills.
If you love this image, you can order a printed t-shirt from Gold Canyon Embroidery: 480-983-1142. $4 from every sale will benefit the Paw & Claws Animal Shelter in Apache Junction. Since the photo was taken in 2011, t-shirt sales have netted more than $2,500 for the shelter, where Fonger and his wife, Marta St. James, were active volunteers.
“One little creature has done so much good and helped so many other animals, just by escaping a pursuing mountain lion,” reflects Fonger. “And he has brought smiles to thousands of people all over the globe. Amazing.”
Video and Website Links:
One of Curt’s favorite postings of “Gold Canyon Bob,” as he dubbed the bobcat, is an edited video by The Dodo. “They did a clever job of editing. They had to insert the mountain lion, as no one got pictures of it. I was the voice narrating the story. It got over 5 million hits in an hour on YouTube and another 3 million on Facebook. Incredible.” See it HERE.
ABC Channel 15 News Report from April 2011.