Another Oregon cougar orphan sent to zoo

Orphaned Lane County cougar cubs heading to new homes

By Katy Muldoon, The Oregonian
December 17, 2009, 7:44PM

For the third time this year and the second time this month, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife called the Oregon Zoo on Thursday with a request: Could the zoo accommodate an orphaned cougar? The female that arrived Thursday is sister to the cub pictured, a 10-week-old, 13-pound male.The cougar approached. The homeowner fired. And that’s the short explanation for why two strikingly elegant cougar cubs, dark spots accenting their golden coats, ended up at the Oregon Zoo over the past week and a half.

Their wild-to-captive saga began Dec. 6, according to Brian Wolfer of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, when a homeowner living near the Springfield Country Club let his dogs out. The man saw a cougar emerge from the brush and stalk his dogs. He grabbed a gun. From his patio, he hollered to scare off the big cat but it kept coming.

He pulled the trigger.

When the Oregon State Police arrived, Wolfer said, they found the dead cougar 27 feet from the man’s patio and determined he broke no law, legitimately defending his pets.

But police found more: a deer carcass — one the cougar killed on the golf course and dragged into the brush 50 yards from the man’s home. Up a nearby tree was a cougar cub.

Police dialed Wolfer, the state’s district wildlife biologist, who arrived with a tranquilizer gun. He darted the blue-eyed cub, a male approximately 10 weeks old and 13 pounds, and shipped him to Portland’s zoo.

State wildlife officials frequently collaborate with the zoo, particularly finding homes for orphaned cougars or bears.

In the wild, the cats, also called pumas or mountain lions, nurse for at least three months. Their mothers, who don’t share territory with other adults, introduce them to meat at about 6 weeks old and the young spend the next year or two learning to hunt with her. An orphaned cub cannot survive in the wild.

The state’s cougar population is healthy enough to sustain the loss of cubs, but “I don’t think the public wants to see us euthanize a kitten,” Wolfer said, “if we can place it with a top-notch, credible, accredited facility.”

Cougar litters can include up to six young, though one or two is more common. Wolfer searched the area. He couldn’t find others.

Five days later, a caller said they’d seen a cougar cub cross a road in the same area. Wolfer returned with a hound trained to hunt cougars, but couldn’t locate the cub. He set live traps, without luck.

The biologist noticed that something kept feeding on the deer carcass, which remained where the mother cougar put it. He set up a camera, caught images of a cub dining on the deer and baited a live trap next to the carcass.

Late Wednesday or early Thursday, 10 days after losing its mother, the cub stepped into the trap.

Thursday afternoon the robust, 14 1/2-pound female cougar arrived at the zoo.

Like her brother — and another orphaned female cub rescued near Klamath Falls in June — this youngster will dine on bowls of formula until its ready to move to a new home.

Michelle Schireman, puma population manager for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a keeper at the Oregon Zoo, coordinates a list of AZA-accredited zoos eager to adopt orphaned cougar cubs. Last week’s is headed to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas, and the cub that arrived Thursday will make her new home at Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Mass.

“Everyone,” Schireman said, “loves big cats.”


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Orphaned Oregon cougar will go to Texas zoo

Orphaned cougar found near Springfield, Ore.

by staff

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 10-week-old male orphan cougar cub found last week near Springfield, Ore., has found a new home in Texas thanks to the Oregon Zoo.

Within hours of the male cub’s arrival, Oregon Zoo keeper and resident puma expert Michelle Schireman had found a zoo eager to adopt the baby. Located in Tyler, Texas, the Caldwell Zoo is “very excited to have the cub heading their way for the holidays,” Schireman said.

The male cub, who Oregon Zoo keepers describe as “very handsome and feisty,” was found last week near Springfield, Ore. When the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife established that he was an orphan, they contacted Schireman.

“I’m usually the first person fish and wildlife departments call when orphaned cubs must be removed from the wild,” Schireman said. “As the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ puma population manager, I can place these cougars in accredited zoos. Baby cougars can’t live in the wild without their mothers, so zoos offer the orphans’ only chance for survival.”

Schireman never sees many of the cats she helps — the range for cougars extends over nearly half the United States — but when cubs are orphaned in Oregon, she has a more hands-on role in determining the young cougars’ futures.

It usually takes her a few days to organize the babies’ transfer to a permanent home, and ODFW does not have the capacity to temporarily house orphaned cubs — but the Oregon Zoo sometimes has space in its animal quarantine facility to host the cubs on a short-term basis. While they stay at the zoo, the cubs receive care from Schireman and zoo veterinary staff.

The male cub — currently residing at the zoo in Portland before moving to Texas — is the second this year that ODFW has turned over to Schireman. The cub was preceded in June by a 9-week-old female found near Klamath Falls, Ore. Now named Gillin, the cub is a beloved fixture at the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, pumas and (in Florida) panthers, live mostly in the western United States and Canada. The mammals weigh from 75 to 130 pounds and have a carnivorous diet both in the wild and at the zoo. Females are either pregnant or raising cubs for the majority of their lives. After three months of gestation, two to three cubs are usually born in a litter and live with their mother for up to two years.


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India: 3 leopard cubs will go to zoo if mother doesn’t turn up

3 leopard cubs found abandoned
TNN 22 November 2009, 09:45pm IST

CHIKMAGALUR: Three leopard cubs were found abandoned at Ganeshapura near Hadikere in Tarikere taluk and was later rescued by the forest department.

The cubs, abandoned by its mother, was spotted by a villager on his way to his farm. He, along with some villagers, immediately informed the range forest officer Jayanna who rushed to the spot and rescued the spotted felony cubs.

The forest department staff placed the cubs in the same spot with a hope that its mother would return to find its cubs. The RFO said they will wait for the night and if the mother doesn’t turn up, the cubs will be sent to Tavarekoppa in Shimoga district or Mysore Zoo.


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GF&P looking for home for cougar kitten caught in Deadwood, S.D.

Wayne Ortman
The Associated Press – Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009 6:00 am

The day after a state trapper killed a partially blind mountain lion in Deadwood after it was deemed a threat, officials are now looking for a home for the animal’s kitten.

The male kitten, believed to be about 3 months old, is healthy but probably too young to survive on its own, according to Mike Kintigh, regional supervisor for the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks in Rapid City.

The kitten was captured in a live trap. The department plans to keep live traps out on the chance the 6-year-old female had other kittens.

“If there is another one I’m pretty confident that in a day or two we’ll have either caught it or had another reported sighting of it,” Kintigh said Thursday.

A Deadwood resident called police late Tuesday night to report he has seen a lion in his back yard when he went to let a dog out.

The search was delayed because of darkness and difficult terrain until Wednesday morning when the trapper and dogs tracked the female to a tree on a ridge where it was shot around 8:30, Kintigh said.

Earlier that morning, a Deadwood police officer reported seeing two lions together, one smaller than the other, but the trapper found no tracks or other signs of another cat.

“We set four live traps in the immediate area, with the thought that if there were kittens with this female they would all kind of come back to the spot where they separated and we might catch one or two or whatever,” Kintigh said.

It appears the lions had been feeding on a deer carcass in the homeowner’s back yard for two or possibly three nights, he said.

The lion’s limited vision added to the danger it posed by feeding in Deadwood, Kintigh aid.

“Our protocol is pretty clear that if a lion is within the city limits of any community we will permanently remove it.”

The 25-pound kitten was in a trap Wednesday morning. It will be cared for by the wildlife department at South Dakota State University while Department of Game, Fish and Parks contacts zoos that have expressed interest in taking a young lion.

There have been other cases of Black Hills lions exhibiting blindness or cloudy eyes caused by a virus that is not fully understood. In this case, the female had lost about 70 percent of her vision, Kintigh said.

“That limits her ability to hunt, which may have resulted in her coming into a town. You’ve got to realize in a town like Deadwood, there’s a lot of cover for them to hide and stalk in, and a lot of prey, a lot of deer in Deadwood. She may have gravitated to going within the city limits to hunt because of that impairment.”

Posted in News, Local on Friday, October 23, 2009 6:00 am Updated: 6:45 am.


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India: Four ‘abandoned’ leopard cubs keeping all on their toes

Karnataka – Mysore

A trying experience for their caregivers
Special Correspondent

The cubs were picked up by some farmers who thought they had been abandoned
They cannot be let into the woods as they have no self-preservation abilities

MYSORE: For the staff at the Forest Department guesthouse here, it is a testing time as four unusual guests have kept them busy for the past few weeks. Four chubby leopard cubs are grabbing the attention of all and have become the cynosure of all eyes as they grapple with each other, bite, roll, curl up and provide non-stop entertainment.

It is rare for cubs so young to survive the separation from their mother. But these four have pulled along and are reckoned to be healthy. “We feed them milk mixed with egg twice a day and give them a chicken-based diet in the afternoon,” said their caretaker Shivu.

Five-week ordeal

It has been five weeks since the cubs were separated from their mother. A few farmers near Nanjangud just picked them up and gave them to the department, thinking they were abandoned. Wildlife experts have urged farmers time and again not to disturb cubs if the mother is not around as big cats generally tend to go around hunting and return after a while. With public awareness of animal behaviour being low, people tend to pick up cubs owing to misplaced sympathy and the false belief that they have been abandoned.

The four cubs were hardly a few days old when they were picked up from a sugarcane field and brought to the Forest Department office. Their chances of survival were reckoned to be bleak, but continuous nursing and proper veterinary care have ensured that they grow healthily. However, their future is uncertain as they cannot be released into the forests, for they cannot be taught tricks of hunting and self-preservation.

The next stop may be the Mysore zoo or the Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore. But that is something which will be decided by the officials. The cubs have, however, accustomed themselves to human presence and seem comfortable in their new ambience.

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