Animals

Starving cougar wanders into Olympic Peninsula animal rehab just in the nick of time

November 10th, 2020

In Quilcene, WA, a young and hungry cougar found itself in a tight race for survival.

The poor mountain lion was barely a year old and starving when it was found at a nearby animal rescue. Sara Penhallegon, owner of the Central Valley Animal Rescue facility, said she discovered a very big cat that was located in one of her pens.

“It had a pile of old hay in there and made itself at home, just curled up in the hay,” Sara said. “I suspect it was going there to die, considering the condition it was in.”

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The cougar serendipitously discovered Sara’s animal rescue where she and her team were ready to assist in any way they could.

A quick look at the feline and it was determined by the team’s expertise that the cougar’s mother had recently died before she passed down her survival skills to her kin.

This explained why the young cougar was so malnourished and in physical shambles.

“This was a cat that had not learned to hunt yet. It had no way to take care of itself or feed itself,” Sara mentioned. “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!”

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It wasn’t looking good for the overgrown kitty.

Wildlife experts gathered and estimated that the cougar had about a 10% chance of survival before it stepped into the animal rehab center. It was about 34 pounds when it was discovered in the hay, which is a stunning 50 lbs below the average weight of these cats.

Luckily for the animal, the team aided in nursing it back to great health. After some time recovering and getting the right treatment, the mountain lion in distress put on a healthy 10 lbs!

“It started getting feisty and it would hiss and growl at me every time I walked over,” said Penhallegon. “That was a very good sign.”

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Cougars are one of the most sought after creatures in the United States.

There have been a plethora of extermination attempts across their native region in the country since hunting and poaching remain the biggest threats to their survival. A study made by Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project suggests that these are the main reasons that account for the death of nearly half of the adult lion population.

As such, many of the adult cougars end up driven out of their natural habitat and sometimes end up in nearby residents’ backyards. It is estimated that there may be roughly 30,000 individual mountain lions still alive in the United States.

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Since the cougar could not hunt and forage for itself, it could not be released back into the forests of the Olympic Peninsula.

In addition, Washington law states that it is illegal to return a rehabilitated cougar back to the wild. The alternative would be to send the determined cougar to a natural habitat zoo in Texas.

“Obviously, our goal is to return animals to the wild, but the next best option is a really good captive placement with a great facility that can take care of its needs. And that’s what we have for this one.”

Sara has been incredibly humbled by the entire experience. She feels sympathy for the cougar that cannot go back to her natural habitat, but is rather appreciative that she got to meet the cougar and have this experience in general.

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It’s not common to find ourselves witnessing a crippled wild animal tethering between life and death.

Luckily for this cougar, Sara’s team worked miracles and gave it a proper second chance of life. A reminder that deeds of kindness, although rarely seen, can be impactful in the way we preserve our world and its glorious nature.

To learn more about this incredible story, watch the video below.

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