Cougar

Oakland Zoo Cares for Mountain Lion Orphans

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In cooperation with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Feline Conservation Center, Oakland Zoo has taken in two orphaned Mountain Lion cubs. The cubs were found separately in Orange County, two weeks apart from each other. Due to their ages and geographic proximity to each other when rescued, Oakland Zoo veterinarians will conduct DNA testing to determine if they are, in fact, siblings.

An adult female Mountain Lion was struck and killed by a motorist in the area of the cubs’ rescues, leading to the conjecture that the cubs may have belonged to her and were separated as a result of her tragic death.

In response to a situation such as this, Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, in partnership with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help save Mountain Lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict with the CDFW.

"The Mountain Lions of the Santa Anas are the most at-risk in the nation, equal to the Florida Panther in terms of the uncertainty around their survival. Orphaned kittens represent the death of a mother lions, and this isolated Orange County population cannot afford the loss. It will take protection of habitat and wildlife corridors, depredation prevention efforts, and enhancements of Southern California freeways to allow the Mountain Lions of the Santa Anas and Orange County to survive. The two orphaned kittens at the Oakland Zoo are evidence of that need," said Lynn Cullens, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

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2_Mountain Lion Cub 20171211 -5Photo Credits: Oakland Zoo

Both cubs are male and estimated to be 3-4 months old and weigh close to 30 lbs. They were found approximately 15 miles apart in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon and Rancho Santa Margarita.

The first was discovered in a resident’s backyard, and the second, approximately two weeks later, on the roadside. Residents reported the cub sightings and CDFW was contacted. The cubs were initially cared for by the Feline Conservation Center in Lake Forest before being brought to Oakland Zoo where they are currently being quarantined, given medical attention and cared for by the Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital.

The second male cub arrived at Oakland Zoo on Monday and is doing very well. Zookeepers describe him as ‘feisty’ compared to his counterpart, who is more shy and cautious. Mountain Lions are new to Oakland Zoo, and these two cubs and the events that led them to need a ‘forever home’ will serve as educational ambassadors at Oakland Zoo’s upcoming 56-acre California Trail expansion, opening in June 2018.

“It is an honor to provide a forever home for these young Mountain Lions, and honor their lives further by working to help conserve their wild counterparts. We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve pumas, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock. Oakland Zoo will continue to work in our BACAT Alliance with CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bay Area Puma Project, Mountain Lion Foundation to inspire our community to both understand and take action for our precious local lion,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.

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Orphan Cougar Cubs Make Their Way to Toledo Zoo

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Three adorable, orphaned female Cougar cubs now reside at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio.

The cubs were all born in Washington state. The state of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for help in finding the Cougar cubs new homes following the loss of their mothers. There is no information to post as to how the cubs became orphans, but, according to the Toledo Zoo, their plight is the result of "human-wildlife conflict".

Toledo Zoo staff recently made the trip to Washington to bring the cubs back to their facility.

Zoo officials stated that the elder of the cubs, named Rainier, is 10-12 weeks old. She is eating solid foods, weighs about ten pounds, and is from southeast Washington. Rainier has also taken on the coloring of an adult Cougar and lost her ‘baby stripes’.

The younger cubs, named Columbia and Cascade, are approximately three weeks old. They are still being bottle-fed by staff, weigh about 3.5 pounds each, and are from northeast Washington. These younger cubs are from a litter of four. The other two cubs in that litter were sent to a New Jersey zoo.

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4_Puma_CougarCub-123Photo Credits: Corey Wyckoff / Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Although the cubs are not yet on-exhibit, the public can view the younger cubs during veterinarian supervised bottle feedings at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day, near the indoor viewing of elephants in Tembo Trail.

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Oregon Zoo Fosters Orphaned Cougar Cub

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A tiny, orphaned Cougar cub has briefly taken up residence behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo’s veterinary medical center.

The cub, described as “loud and rambunctious” by zoo vet staff, was recently rescued by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, after a landslide separated the young Cougar from its mother. After a short stopover in Portland, the cub will be headed to a new permanent home at the Minnesota Zoo.

“It was the victim of a landslide that occurred on Sunday [April 23] in Pend Oreille County,” said Rich Beausoleil, WDFW Bear and Cougar specialist. “A member of the public found it the day after in the mud and called WDFW.”

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4_6I0B7060Photo Credits: Oregon Zoo

The cub, a five-week-old male weighing around four pounds, wouldn’t stand a chance alone in the wild, so Beausoleil contacted Oregon Zoo keeper, Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ species coordinator for Cougars.

“Without a mother, young Cougars can’t survive on their own in the wild, so I work to find them good homes,” Schireman said. “We would rather they grow up with their moms, but when that’s not an option we want them to have the best lives possible.”

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Orphaned Pumas Find Home at Minnesota Zoo

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The Minnesota Zoo recently welcomed two orphaned Puma kittens to Apple Valley, MN.

The brother-sister pair was found in late October just outside the Port Angeles, Washington area by a local resident and rescued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before making the journey to Minnesota. Based on the kittens’ condition, officials were confident their steps at intervention were needed and that the mother was not returning to care for the pair.

“We are happy to provide these kittens with an excellent home to thrive here at the Minnesota Zoo,” says Tropics and Minnesota Trail Curator, Tom Ness. “These kittens are a great addition and we look forward to introducing them to our guests once they are healthy and strong enough for their habitat along the Minnesota Trail.”

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4_Puma Kitten_3Photo Credits: John Oakes/ Minnesota Zoo

The male kittens weighed in at 13 pounds when he arrived, while the female was 11 pounds. Both kittens have grown considerably since their arrival and are currently behind the scenes for a mandatory quarantine period, where they are receiving constant care from the Zoo’s veterinary team before making their public debut along the Medtronic Minnesota Trail sometime later this year. The Medtronic Minnesota Trail is also home to several other rescued animals such as: three black bears, five gray wolves, a bald eagle, a porcupine and more.

Puma is a genus in Felidae (Felis concolor). Probably due to their wide range across North and South America, Pumas have multiple names they are known by, including Cougar and Mountain Lion.

Pumas can run up to 43 mph, jump more than 20 feet from standing, and leap up to 16 feet straight up.

Although they can make a wide range of cat noises (hisses, growls, purrs), Pumas cannot roar. Instead, they are known for their distinctive “scream-like” calls during mating, but are often extremely stealthy and go unheard.

Although they have been pushed into smaller habitats by human settlement expansion, members of this genus have been formally classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Their success in the wild, thus far, is due to their adaptation to changing habitat conditions.


Oregon Zoo Cares for Feisty Cougar Orphans

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Three fuzzy, orphaned Cougar cubs have briefly taken up residence, behind the scenes, at the Oregon Zoo's veterinary medical center.

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4_Oregon Cougar orphansPhoto Credits: Kathy Street / Oregon Zoo

At about 10-days-old, the cubs (two females and one male) were discovered in Washington State in mid-September. Upon rescuing the orphans, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials quickly contacted Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' species coordinator for Cougars.

"Without a mother, young Cougars can't survive on their own in the wild," Schireman said. "So I work to find them suitable homes. We have a couple of options we are considering right now, and the cubs should only be in our care for a couple of weeks at the most."

The cubs arrived in Portland Sept. 18, weighing just a pound and a half each. They had yet to cut their teeth, and their eyes were barely open — still cloudy blue and unable to focus. But since their arrival at the Zoo, they have been eating well and are very vocal, according to Schireman. "They're loud," she said. "When you come to feed them in the middle of the night, you can hear them all the way out in the parking lot."

In 2011, the American Association of Zoo Keepers recognized Schireman with a Certificate of Merit in Conservation for her "outstanding work developing an orphaned animal placement program." As AZA species coordinator, she has found homes for nearly 120 Cougar cubs in zoos around the country. Most of the Cougars currently living in U.S. zoos are orphans placed by Schireman.

"In most cases, we try to arrange for orphaned cubs to go directly to their new homes," Schireman said. "But in special situations, and depending on whether we have space, we sometimes take care of them at the zoo until their health has stabilized. It's a lot to ask of our staff, but everyone here is incredibly dedicated to helping wildlife. Our vet staff and keepers have been taking shifts to make sure the little ones receive around-the-clock care with bottle feedings every four hours.

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Blue the Cougar Debuts at Stone Zoo

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The staff at Stone Zoo has even more reason to celebrate this holiday season with the recent public debut of ‘Blue’, the 10 week old Cougar kitten.

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10830982_10152600085056989_6257364334333993673_oPhoto Credits: Dayle Sullivan-Taylor

In early November, Blue made the journey from central Idaho to his new home in Massachusetts. At approximately four weeks old, Blue was found alone and unable to survive on his own. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought a new home for him, and Zoo New England answered that call.

“Blue is continuing to thrive. He has been practicing his pouncing and stalking skills, and is a very curious kitten,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “While we do wish that Blue would’ve been able to remain in the wild, it just was not possible for his survival. We are happy that we can provide a home for him, and we know that he will bring joy to so many as they have the opportunity to watch him grow. He is truly an ambassador for his species.”

Blue recently moved to his new temporary nursery after a month-long stay at the Zoo hospital at Franklin Park Zoo. Throughout the first several weeks, he required dedicated care and was bottle-fed by Zoo staff every four to five hours throughout the day. Blue was recently weaned off of bottle feedings.

At this point in his development, it is important for Blue to have some social interaction, opportunities to climb and explore, as well as plenty of enrichment so he can develop his natural Cougar skills. As he becomes bigger, the staff will have increasingly less interaction with him. He is expected to make his exhibit debut within the Treasures of the Sierra Madre exhibit in the coming months at Stone Zoo.

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Orphaned Cougar Kitten Finds a Home at Stone Zoo

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A four-week-old orphaned Cougar kitten traveled from central Idaho to Boston, where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo

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Photo Credit:  Dayle Sullivan-Taylor
 
Blue, a male kitten weighing five pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found. 

“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian. 

Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho last week to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.

Caring for the kitten will require significant attention from the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days.

“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about Cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.” 

When Blue is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to debut in the Cougar exhibit in winter 2015. 

One of the largest of North America's wild cats, Cougars are also known as Panthers, Painters, Mountain Lions, Pumas and Catamounts. Although the Cougars' United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States to Patagonia. Cougars are found in a wide variety of habitats including lowlands, mountainous regions, deserts, and tropical forests. 

Females typically give birth between April and September to one to six kittens, which are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.


Mountain Lion Foundling Finds a Home

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An orphaned Mountain Lion cub has a new home at ZooAmerica in Hersey, Pennsylvania! 

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Cougar cub_ZooAmerica_9Photo Credits: ZooAmerica

A homeowner, near Spokane, WA, found the 3-week-old dehydrated and malnourished cub on their front porch and contacted authorities. State Fish and Wildlife officers responded and immediately searched the area for the cub’s mother. When the mother wasn’t located, the cub was taken to wildlife rehabilitators at Mt.Spokane Veterinary Hospital.

Because of the cub’s age, he will need intervention by humans to ensure his survival.  According to Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, Madonna Luers, “You just don’t rehabilitate an apex predator that’s become fixed on people, and release it back into the wild. The odds that it would eventually have contact with people or pets are too high.”

Arrangements were made to find an AZA accredited facility that could provide care for the Mountain Lion cub after his veterinary stay. ZooAmerica is now proud to have their new occupant and are providing the additional care and attention he needs to continue his development. The, yet-to-be-named, male cub is doing phenomenally well, but he will remain off exhibit for a while longer.

Mountain Lions (also known as Cougars, Panthers, or Pumas) are native to the Americas, with a range extending from the Canadian Yukon to the Andes of South America. They are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, the species is provided a level of protection through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  According to CITES, under Appendix I, it is illegal to engage in international trade of Mountain Lion specimens or parts.

See more photos of the cub below the fold.

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Rescued Cougar Cubs Arrive at Oregon Zoo

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More Cougars! This time, it's a trio of two-week-old cubs that were orphaned in the wild. They were rescued last week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brought to Oregon Zoo's Veterinary Medical Center for care. 

At just two weeks old, Cougar cubs are completely dependent on their mother, who raises them without the help of a mate. Their eyes have been open for just a few days. They wouldn't have made it on their own without a mother to nurse them, protect them, and teach them the survival skills they will need. 

These guys are now in experienced, caring hands. They'll receive care at Oregon Zoo until they move to their permanent home at the North Carolina Zoo

See video of a bottle-feeding and checkup:

 


A Tiny Cougar Weighs In at Zoo Salzburg

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On December 24, a healthy male Cougar was born at Zoo Salzburg in Austria! Cougars may have a litter of up to six cubs, but typically give birth to two. This time, a single cub was born and mom, 14-year-old Winnie, devotes all her care to this little one. 

Cougar cubs are born after a gestation period of about three months. Cubs are born with their eyes closed and weigh slightly less than one pound (about 400 grams). Within ten days, the cubs open their bright blue eyes. This startling eye color, along with their spotted baby-coats, changes by around six months of age. Depending on the cat's habitat, their fur may range in color from silver-gray to reddish-brown. 

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3 cougarPhoto credits: Zoo Salzburg
The proud parents, Winnie and Yagul. In this species, mothers raise offspring without help from the father. 

Cougars, also known as Mountain Lions, Pumas, Panthers, or Catamounts, are native to the Americas. The Cougar is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a species of 'Least Concern'. This is because they are found widely across North and South America, from Canada through the southern tip of Chile. However, it is considered as a species in decline, and some populations have been drastically reduced or extirpated (meaning extinct in a particular region where they used to live).

Like most cats, Cougars are solitary creatures. Depending on the type of habitat, they may require very large home ranges for successful hunting. This makes them  vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as to the decline of prey animals.  Because they may resort to taking livestock, they also face persecution by humans.