Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Find a New Home at Colorado Zoo

Three young mountain lion cubs have found a new home at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after being orphaned in Washington state.

The six-week-old cubs were found in their den last week when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to a human-wildlife conflict that resulted in the death of the cubs’ mother, according to a press release from the zoo.

The WDFW then worked with a Species Survival Plan coordinator to find a new home for the cubs, who were unable to survive on their own in the wild.

The young lions will now live in the zoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit.

“We’re excited to provide a home for these young, playful cubs,” Rebecca Zwicker, senior lead keeper of Rocky Mountain Wild, said. “Of course, these situations are bittersweet. We wish we didn’t have to find homes for orphaned cubs, but we’re grateful for our partnerships with the SSP and WDFW, because we can offer the cubs an amazing life of choices, care, and compassion.”

This is the second litter of orphaned mountain lion cubs that the zoo has been involved in rescuing. The only surviving member of the first litter, which came from Wyoming in 2006, is Kaya, a female.  

After the cubs are determined to be healthy and have received all of their vaccinations, they will be introduced to Kaya — who could fill in as a substitute mother for the orphaned big cats.

“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.”

The cubs will be on view to visitors of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the upcoming weeks.

“Mountain lions are part of our daily lives in Colorado,” Zwicker explained. “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.”

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