In Washington State, there is an animal rehab center in Quilcene called Center Valley Animal Rescue, and volunteers at the center recently had an unexpected visitor. Founded in 2002 by Sarah Penhallegon, the center is near the Olympic Mountains and many different animals that have been abandoned have found their way to the facility because of people bringing them in, but the center staff never expected an animal to check himself in, and that’s exactly what happened recently. An orphaned cougar cub was starving and near death and somehow found her way to the rescue, believe it or not. She strolled in and just curled up in a pen, staff say.
According to news outlet KIRO7, this is the first time something like this has happened, as reported by the rescue’s founder. Apparently, the pen looked comfy enough and the cub just crawled inside and laid down on the hay that was in the pen. Penhallegon said that the cub was in serious need of care and very likely went to the pen to die. When an animal is near death, it will very frequently shelter so that it can die in peace. Fortunately for this little one, though, the staff found her in time and were able to help her.
Another news outlet, WTSP, reports that most cougar cubs stay with their mothers for as long as 36 months, at which point they can usually live and find food on their own. However, this cub was underweight and appeared to be an orphan, so her survival in the wild would have been unlikely. “This was a cat that had not learned to hunt yet. It had no way to take care of itself or feed itself,” said Penhallegon in an interview with KIRO7. “When its mom died, that would’ve been a death sentence for this cat unless it found itself a rehabilitation center it could check itself into!”
Staff at the rescue nursed and fed the cub for two weeks before she was ready to go to a new environment. Experts gave the young cougar only a 10% chance of survival because she was 50 pounds underweight. As it turns out, in Washington, a captive cougar can’t be returned to the wild, so this lucky little cat is now living in Waco, Texas at the Cameron Park Zoo, a natural habitat zoo. Watch the news video about this story below.