A trio of orphaned cougar cubs from Oregon are settling in at their new home in North Carolina.
The three baby cougars lost their mother to a hunter in eastern Oregon. They arrived at the Oregon Zoo Jan. 10 dehydrated, hungry and scared, according to zoo workers.
They were given five weeks of around-the-clock care in preparation of moving to their new permanent home at the North Carolina Zoo.
That zoo recently lost two geriatric cougars and had enough room to keep the three siblings from Oregon together.
They arrived in North Carolina in early March and went through a 30-day quarantine period.
Now, starting this week, they are being slowly introduced to their new habitat. The process will be gradual, with the cougars only visible to the public for short periods of time to start, according to the North Carolina Zoo.
Michelle Schireman, a zookeeper at the Oregon Zoo and the species coordinator for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said without a mother, young cougars lack the skills and resources necessary to survive on their own in the wild.
A hunter, who is a former Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife worker, mistakenly shot their mother. Investigators said once he realized he had shot and killed a female cougar with cubs, he tracked paw prints in the snow back to the den and found the newborns, who were just two weeks old.
Schireman said the cubs would have starved to death or been eaten by a predator if they had not been found.
Thursday, August 21 2014 2:55 PM EDT2014-08-21 18:55:51 GMT
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