On a Friday night in late October we received a message from our veterinarian about helping some orphaned cougar cubs. Our vet, Dr. Bergmann, had received an email from the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Dept, concerning 5 orphaned cubs that if no one could help out with could be euthanized that Saturday. In a joint effort to save them we, along with Cohanzick Zoo, located in southern New Jersey, responded.
The officer from Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department was very grateful, he had no luck in the prior weeks of finding safe placement for them. In some instances nursing moms may be killed during hunting season or hit by cars leaving very young cubs orphaned. When a mom has been killed and doesn’t return to her den, within a day or two the very young cubs are forced to venture out in search of mom or food. These poor cubs who have only known their mom for food and protection are now on their own and at their age will slowly starve to death or be killed by another animal.
Luckily in the case of the first two siblings found, a farmer had seen them wandering around and scared, he called Fish and Wildlife who responded and caught the cubs. They placed them in a safe cage and put a video camera on them throughout the night to make sure a mom was not coming back for them, she didn’t. A second pair of cubs and a single cub were found in similar situations in different areas over the next couple days. This officer kept them fed and safe in his garage as long as he could. Prior to these, he had placed thirty orphaned cubs over the last fourteen years.
He was relieved when he heard from us and began making plans to transport them to NJ. They landed at Philadelphia Airport that Tuesday night. Only four had made the trip, one had passed away before leaving Washington. The next day they were safe and sound with full bellies ready to start their new young lives in NJ. We held all four cubs at Popcorn Park for the next two weeks to have their exams and vaccines. Cohanzick staff came and took their two new cubs and the first two orphaned siblings now named Tocho (which means mountain lion) and Shilo (brother) would start life in comfort at Popcorn Park.
They are still in quarantine for the next couple weeks but have been getting outside in an enclosed attached pen while we alter their outdoor enclosure. Although still pretty “wild” they are getting used to our staff. We sneak peeks of them rough-housing and playing but when we approach we’re still being greeted with a hiss and not a purr, but things are changing, it will take time and patience. This spring they will be introduced to our visitors.
Please help Tocho and Shilo and make a donation to our Res-Q Fund, which covers their transport and medical care.
Shilo and Tocho are also available for sponsorship in our Popcorn Park Wildlife Club. You can sponsor Shilo here or sponsor Tocho.
Please check our Popcorn Park Refuge Facebook page for additional photos.