Two injured, orphaned mountain lion cubs were rescued by the California Department of Fish and Game in January, “after their mother was killed near San Jose,” according to Pat Impiccini of PR Communications and Media Relations. The “female cub weighed only 7 pounds and had bite wounds to her back right hamstring and several broken teeth. She was emaciated, weak and covered with fleas and ticks. It was later discovered that she had two broken legs and a broken jaw.” The brother and sister cubs were given continuous, around-the-clock care by an employee of the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary in Folsom, California. Thanks to this dedication, the cubs are recovering. However, unfortunately, the zoo was unable to provide a permanent home for the babies due to budget cuts.
Despite all the suffering so early in life, the story of the cubs has a happy ending. According to Impiccini, “because the cubs were so bonded and had been through so much,” officials at Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary and California Fish and Game worked together with Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, the only facility that was able to give the cubs a home where they can remain together. Impiccini noted that the cubs, Cypress (the female cub) and Ash (the male cub), were flown to Scottsdale by “Joy Covey of Woodside, California, a private pilot who is donating her services through LightHawk, North America’s largest and oldest volunteer-based environmental aviation organization.”
“The donated flight will move these mountain lions to their new home without the stress of commercial air travel or a 15-hour drive,” explains Rudy Engholm, Executive Director of LightHawk. “And the volunteer pilot will have the bragging rights of carrying some pretty cute passengers.”
The cubs arrived at their new home at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center on Monday, February 27, 2012. The cubs may grow to be over 100 pounds as adults. They will “eventually live in a large enclosure with other mountain lions.”
The SWCC “rescues and rehabilitates wildlife, providing sanctuary to animals that cannot be released back to the wild.”Impiccini notes that “through tours and outreach programs, the organization offers education on living with wildlife, including pet safety, and the importance of native wildlife to healthy ecosystems. In their new lives at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, Ash and Cypress will become ambassadors of their species, providing an opportunity for visitors to learn more about mountain lions and the importance of conservation.