Three orphaned Mountain Lion cubs arrived at their new home at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in late May after being found alone in a den in Washington state. The two sisters and their brother were estimated to be about six weeks old at the time of their rescue.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) responded to a human-wildlife conflict that resulted in the cubs’ mother’s death. WDFW staff members reached out to the zoo community to find a home for the young Lions, who were too small to survive on their own in the wild.
“We’re excited to provide a home for these young, playful cubs,” said Rebecca Zwicker, senior lead keeper in Rocky Mountain Wild, where the cubs will live. “Of course, these situations are bittersweet. We wish we didn’t have to find homes for orphaned cubs, but we’re grateful for our partnerships, because we can offer the cubs an amazing life of choices, care, and compassion.”
This is the second litter of orphaned Mountain Lion cubs that Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has helped to rescue. The first litter came from Wyoming in 2006. Tocho, Motega and Yuma were all male members of the litter who have since passed. Kaya, the female Mountain Lion who lives in Rocky Mountain Wild, is the remaining member of the original litter. After the cubs earn a clean bill of health, the plan is to introduce them to Kaya.
“We’re hoping Kaya, who is blind and aging, will enjoy having company again,” Zwicker said. “We’ll take our time letting Kaya and the cubs have opportunities to interact from a safe distance, and then we’ll follow their lead. It would be ideal if they could live together, because the cubs can learn how to be Mountain Lions from Kaya.”
While the cubs are behind the scenes, they’ll receive vaccinations and veterinary checks to ensure they’re ready to explore their new home in Rocky Mountain Wild.
“Mountain Lions are part of our daily lives in Colorado,” said Zwicker. “These cubs will be ambassadors for their wild relatives, helping our guests learn about their species, their unique personalities and behaviors, their contributions to our ecosystem, and how we can live peacefully with them.”