Meet Star and Thunder! Star and Thunder are cougar siblings that joined Wildwood Zoo in the fall of 2008. They were born May 1, 2008 at Maple Lane Wildlife Farm in Indiana. They are very active and love to play, wrestle, and watch the geese at the zoo. Star is much smaller than her brother and has a slimmer face. They moved into the Floyd and Pat Hamus Cougar Exhibit in the fall of 2019 and have been enjoying exploring their new home!
Cougar's front feet are larger than their back feet to aid in capturing and killing prey. Their long back legs are helpful for jumping; they can leap 18 feet off the ground and can bound 40 feet horizontally. Cougars can run as fast as 35-45 mph, but are best adapted for short, powerful sprints rather than long chases. Their long tail helps with balance and has a black tip which is a very distinguishing feature. In recent years, there have been several confirmed sightings of cougars in Wisconsin. Furthermore, they are the largest cat species that can purr (they are classified as small cats because they cannot roar). They can make many other sounds including chirps, hisses, growls, and screams. Adult males can weigh anywhere from 115-160 pounds and adult females can weigh anywhere from 75-105 pounds. Their head to body length can vary between 3.25-5.25 feet and their tail measures between 2 and 3 feet long. The cougar holds the Guinness World record for the animal with the highest number of common names, probably because it occurs from northern Yukon to the tip of South America. It has over 40 names in English alone including mountain lion, cougar, puma, panther, catamount, and painter.
Cougars are historically the widest ranging land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, aside from humans. A habitat generalist and highly-adaptive, they once roamed the entire expanse of the contiguous forty-eight United States. Today, their populations are officially recognized by state Game and Fish Departments in seventeen states: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida (as subspecies Puma concolor coryii), North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Cougars inhabit most terrestrial habitats from deserts to humid coast range forest, from sea level to 10,000-foot elevations. They live where there is abundant prey and stalking cover available.
Cougars require a lot of room—only a few cats can survive in a 30-square-mile range. They are solitary and shy animals, seldom seen by humans. While they do occasionally attack people—usually children or solitary adults—statistics show that, on average, there are only four attacks and one human fatality each year in all of the U.S. and Canada.
Cougars do not have a set breeding season. Females have a litter of 1-6 kittens every 2-3 years (with a three month gestation period). The survival rate is only one kitten per litter. Only the female rears the young. The young will stay with their mother for 1-2 years before setting out to find their own territory.
In the wild: 8 – 10 years
Under human care: 20 years
Mountain lions eat large mammals such as deer, and smaller mammals such as mice, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits, and beavers.