A pair of cougar cubs found orphaned and starving in Montana had a layover in Portland before catching a flight to their new permanent home.
The 5-month-old siblings, one male and one female, were spotted around the Missoula, MT area over a period of several weeks without a mother in sight. They attempted to raid poultry yards for food and were eventually captured inside a chicken coop.
Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Service contacted Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' population manager for cougars.
She worked to find the cubs a home at the Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee.
It's not clear what happened to their mother, but the cubs were emaciated when they were first rescued. They received good veterinary care in Montana with a steady food supply and have now filled out quite a bit.
The male cub weighs 37 pounds and the female weighs 32.
Zoo workers said the rescued cubs have formed a very strong bond, so the goal was to keep them together during their trip to Tennessee.
No airport close to Missoula could ship a crate large enough for two cougars, so Schireman and Oregon Zoo curator Michael Illig drove to Spokane, WA last Thursday to meet with Montana wildlife agents and the cubs. The animals were then brought down to the Oregon Zoo for a weekend stay in Portland.
The cougar cubs were set to catch a flight out of the Portland International Airport for Tennessee Monday evening.
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