By BILL KAUFMANN, SUN MEDIA
UPDATED: 2007-04-20 16:03:31 MST
Reunited for the first time with the orphaned cougar cubs he helped save, a provincial wildlife officer was purring today over their progress.
After the three cougars, aged five months, were coaxed from their den at the Calgary Zoo, Mark Hoskin voiced his pleasure at the sight.
“You guys have done a good job — they’ve doubled in weight,” Hoskin said to nearby zoo officials.
In early March, Hoskin and other fish and wildlife officers spotted the trio near Caroline, 110 km northwest of Calgary, and soon discovered they were without a mother.
“We had to backtrack them 10 kilometres and there were no mother tracks around,” he said.
“The mother had been poached, or killed on a road or just died.”
Hoskin’s team then pounced on the kittens — two males and one female — after they’d taken refuge in a vacant cabin, and the Calgary Zoo then stepped in.
The skinny cougars, who would have perished in the wild, have flourished in quarantine and have been adjusting to the public glare for the past 11 days, said Kevin Strange, the zoo’s manager of education.
“It’s exceptional — we’re kind of loathe to do this kind of thing but we had the capacity to accept them and the emergency network is there,” said Strange.
That network involves several other zoos that will accept the cougars, he said, likely this fall.
The zoo is asked to take in numerous orphaned animals but isn’t always able to oblige, said spokeswoman Cathy Gaviller.
“The supply is endless,” she said.