Three adorable six-week-old mountain lion cubs are on their way to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo today, after being orphaned in Washington state. The two sisters and their brother, who still bear the camouflaging spots of young cubs, were found in their den last week.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) responded to a human-wildlife conflict that resulted in the cubs’ mother’s death. Rich Beausoleil, statewide Bear & Cougar Specialist with WDFW, worked with Michelle Schireman, Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinator, to find a home for the young lions, who wouldn’t 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.
This is the second litter of orphaned mountain lion cubs that Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been able to help 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 CMZoo litter. After the cubs earn a clean bill of health in the next few weeks, the plan is to introduce them to Kaya.
“Motega and Tocho both passed in the last four months, so 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 in quarantine, 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.”
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s new arrivals will be viewable to guests in the coming weeks. Follow the cubs’ story by tuning into Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter accounts, where the Zoo will share milestone updates and general adorableness from the cubs.