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Blue, the cougar kitten, makes his public debut at Stone Zoo

 

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The staff at Stone Zoo has even more reason to celebrate this holiday season with the recent public debut of Blue, the cougar kitten.

Blue, approximately 10 weeks old, has settled into his temporary nursery in the Windows to the Wild exhibit space. When he is big enough, he will move to the cougar exhibit within Treasures of the Sierra Madre.

In early November, Blue made the journey from central Idaho to his new home in Massachusetts. At approximately four weeks old, Blue was found alone and unable to survive on his own. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought a new home for him, and Zoo New England answered that call.

“Blue is continuing to thrive. He has been practicing his pouncing and stalking skills, and is a very curious kitten,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “While we do wish that Blue would’ve been able to remain in the wild, it just was not possible for his survival. We are happy that we can provide a home for him, and we know that he will bring joy to so many as they have the opportunity to watch him grow. He is truly an ambassador for his species.”

Blue recently moved to his new temporary nursery after a month-long stay at the Zoo hospital at Franklin Park Zoo. Throughout the first several weeks, he required dedicated care and was bottle-fed by Zoo staff every four to five hours throughout the day. Blue was recently weaned off of bottle feedings.

Cougarkitten122014At this point in his development, it is important for Blue to have some social interaction, opportunities to climb and explore, as well as plenty of enrichment so he can develop his natural cougar skills. As he becomes bigger, the staff will have increasingly less interaction with him. He is expected to make his exhibit debut within the Treasures of the Sierra Madre exhibit in the coming months at Stone Zoo.

Blue can be seen in his nursery every day, including during the seasonal ZooLights holiday light show. ZooLights is open nightly from 5:00 – 9:00 through January 4.

One of the largest of the wild cats in North America, the cougar is also known as a panther, painter, mountain lion, puma and catamount. Although the cougar’s United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States, and all the way through Central and South America to Patagonia. Cougars are found in all habitats from lowlands to mountainous regions and from deserts to tropical forests.

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Photos courtesy of Dayle Sullivan-Taylor