Zoo introduces two young cougars rescued from wild

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 12:25pm
Staff reports

Nashville Zoo is introducing two new 7-month-old cougars onto exhibit with the zoo’s resident cougar Jackson.

The two juveniles were part of a trio of cubs rescued in Washington State after they were orphaned in the wild. Jackson will be “easing into retirement,” according to a zoo spokesman. Current plans are to have the two young males available for public viewing in the afternoons beginning around 1:30.

The cubs were discovered last November near Shelton, Wash., after their mother was illegally shot. State wildlife officials worked with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums population manager for cougars to find the cubs new homes.

The first two cubs formed a strong bond, so they moved together to Nashville Zoo. The third was paired with a female cub at Houston Zoo.

“If they had been left in the wild, these cubs would have died without protection from their mother,” said Connie Philipp, director of animal collections at Nashville Zoo. “AZA works with local groups to place exotic and wild animals that are in need of homes. We had been placed on a waiting list for cougars because we knew we would have to find new animals for our exhibit as our current cougar was getting older.”

Cougars — also known as mountain lions, pumas or panthers — live mostly in the western United States and Canada. They are the largest of the small cat species, weighing 75 to 250 pounds and stretching 3.5 to 6.5 feet long, with a tail that is one third of their total body length.

With the exception of the Florida panthers, cougars are not listed as endangered but do face many challenges in other parts of the country due to human encroachment and habitat destruction.