Cougar cubs stay with their mothers until they are two years old. During this time, the adult females teach them all the survival skills in the wild. This baby girl was not lucky. Having been orphaned early it was doomed to die. But the predator was able to find a place where it was helped.
The one-year cougar was struggling to keep on its legs. Somehow the exhausted animal was able to get to Central Valley Animal Rescue on the Olympic Peninsula. There the cat was found lying on a sheaf of hay, making no attempt to escape. According to the shelter's founder, Sarah Penhallegon, the animal had come there to die. The cougar was very weak and skinny, and it was obvious the big cat hadn't eaten for a long time.
It was obvious that the cougar had lost her mother early and had not had time to learn the art of hunting and other skills necessary for survival.
The vets were not sure if the animal would survive, because it was extremely exhausted weighing only 33 pounds (49 pounds less than normal!). However, the shelter staff was not about to give up. If the big cat hadn't got into the shelter, it would have died in the following few weeks.
The doomed cougar got a chance of life. The complex treatment included hourly feeding with chicken breasts and small rodents. After two weeks of such care the cougar gained 10 pounds, got stronger, and began to behave more aggressively as a dangerous predator.
Unfortunately, once recovered, the cougar will not be able to return to the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. In addition, Washington state law prohibits shelters to return rescued wild animals to their natural environment. So the shelter staff faced a difficult choice: to put the cougar to sleep or find it another permanent home. Fortunately, the Division of Fish and Wildlife came to its rescue and managed to find the cougar home in the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas.
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