The cougar kitten rescued by the Conservation Officer Service in Williams Lake and sent to the Greater Vancouver Zoo is receiving the care in needs after being without its mother for a month in the wild. Photos courtesy of the Greater Vancouver Zoo

Cougar kitten gets new lease on life at Greater Vancouver Zoo

Cub survived for a month on his own on the outskirts of Williams Lake

An orphaned cougar kitten who survived against all odds near Williams Lake, continues to make progress in his new home in the Lower Mainland.

“The fact that he survived for a month on his own in the wild at this stage in his life is a miracle in itself,” said Greater Vancouver Zoo animal care manager Menita Prasad in an update to the Williams Lake Tribune. “Zoo staff are pleased with the cub’s progress thus far. He has almost doubled in weight since his arrival and is gaining strength each day.”

Sgt. Jeff Tyre and officer Ron LeBlanc of the Conservation Officer Service (COS) set a live trap for the kitten mid-January after seeing reports on Facebook of it hiding under a porch in the Esler subdivision. Once captured, the two pursued every option available other than putting the young animal down.

“Sometimes you wonder if you should let nature take its course but nature wasn’t what hit his mother on the road so we will step in, it’s our responsibility. It’s humans that caused the mother’s fatality so we’re going to help the kitten out,” said Tyre at the time.

LeBlanc cared for the kitten at his own home until they could secure a permanent place for him at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

“We are very thankful that the BC Conservation Officer Service got him when they did,” said zoo veterinarian Dr. Bruce Burton. “Any later may have been too late for this little fella.”

Read more: Cougar kitten rescued near Williams Lake

The zoo’s animal care team’s first priority was to evaluate the cub’s health and to provide him with everything he needed to make a strong and speedy recovery, Burton said.

“Upon initial examination, the cub appeared to be in reasonable shape. He appeared thin but was eating and drinking,” Burton said. “Once strong enough, we were able to sedate him for a more thorough examination. He has damage to the tips of his ears due to frostbite, sores on his hind limbs most likely from the conditions he was surviving in, was underweight and dehydrated. We cleaned him up and treated him with fluid therapy and antibiotics. He responded well to the treatment and seems to be improving but is not out of the woods yet.”

Cubs typically remain with their mothers for up to two years in the wild, learning how to survive and hunt efficiently, said Prasad, noting if the Greater Vancouver Zoo did not agree to take in this cub the alternative would not have been a positive one.

Cougars are the second largest cats in the Americas. They are nocturnal, adapted for hunting, are masters of camouflage and, as such, are extremely elusive. As apex predators, cougars play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling ungulate populations.

Dedicated to education and conservation, Prasad said the Greater Vancouver Zoo is home to many rescued, donated and orphaned animals. The mission of the Greater Vancouver Zoo is to inspire appreciation of our ecosystems and support conservation efforts by engaging the community.

“Join us for a Family Walking tour this February to learn about our zoo family. For more information check out the events page on our website www.gvzoo.com or visit us at the zoo.“

Read more: Bella Coola sow grizzly destroyed, cub sent to Smithers rehab centre

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The orphaned cougar kitten rescued near Williams Lake last month has damage to the tips of his ears due to frostbite, sores on his hind limbs most likely from the conditions he was surviving in and was underweight and dehydrated, said staff from the Greater Vancouver Zoo in an update on the animal’s progress.

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