MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One mountain lion cub was found alone, emaciated and covered in parasites. The other’s mother was fatally shot for allegedly preying on a farmer’s sheep. Now, the two young cubs from northern California are getting used to life in Minnesota.
The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory says it welcomed the cubs to St. Paul Tuesday, adding that the orphans, a boy and a girl, are currently playing and bonding in their new environment. Their names are Ruby and Jasper, and they’re about 8 to 12 weeks old.
“Although it is heartbreaking circumstances that brought us these beautiful cats, we are happy to be able to provide a home, the care, and support that these animals will need to thrive as individuals and as a species,” said Michelle Furrer, the director of the zoo, in a press release.
Ruby and Jasper are not siblings, as they are from different parts of northern California.
According to a press release, Jasper’s mother was shot by a sheep farmer with a depredation permit.
Ruby was found by a property owner who heard a persistent high-pitched chirping for several days. While the property owner thought it was a bird, it was actually the sound cubs make when calling for their mothers.
Wildlife officials found Ruby is bad shape: severely dehydrated, emaciated and covered in parasites and burrs.
It’s unclear how Ruby’s mother died, but California officials suspect she might have been hit by a car, the press release said.
Before the public can get a chance to see Jasper and Ruby, they will go through a 30 day quarantine period, which is standard procedure for all new zoo animals to prevent disease and parasites from spreading.
According to the Minnesota DNR, wild mountain lions — which are also called cougars or pumas – are rarely seen in Minnesota.
Officials says there’s no evidence of a resident breeding population. The ones that are seen here are suspected to be transients from the Dakotas.