Search continues for Indiana feline center’s missing cougar

By Diana Penner
January 9, 2007

Donner, the 75-pound cougar who escaped from her enclosure Friday, continued to avoid capture Monday as experts set live traps around the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point.

Jean Herrberg, assistant director of the center, said she thinks the cat is still on the grounds, based on tracks.

The center, about 50 miles west of Indianapolis, is home to about 200 exotic cats, including lions, tigers and leopards, on more than 100 acres. It has a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Donner and her brother, Boomer, have lived at the center since December 1999. They were born in Montana and were captured after their mother died.

Herrberg said Donner is on the small side for cougars — Boomer is estimated to weigh 110 to 120 pounds — and she doesn’t think the cat would pose a threat to humans unless she were cornered.

“She is so shy because she wasn’t around people as a cub,” Herrberg said. Even after being in residence at the rescue center for six years, Donner still hides from Herrberg if she brings her food, she said.

Herrberg wasn’t sure how many traps were to be placed by the end of the day Monday. Experts from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources were helping, and Tim Julien, president of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association, based in Indianapolis, was assisting, she said.

The traps are designed to capture the animal without injury, Herrberg said.
Trackers found a mostly eaten raccoon Saturday, indicating Donner has some hunting instincts, despite having been fed regularly at the center.

Her brother has been occasionally calling for his sibling with a chirping sound, but Donner has not responded, Herrberg said.

Call Star reporter Diana Penner at (317) 444-6249.


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