In the backyard of a Washington resident, a female puma gave birth to four young kittens- three males and one female. When U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) attempted to relocate the mom and kittens, the mom ended up abandoning her young. After two days of the mom not returning to her young, it was time to intervene for the health and safety of the kittens. Within the AZA community, the program leader for the puma monitoring program, Michelle with Oregon Zoo, was called on to assist in the placement of these orphaned pumas. She acted as the liaison between USFW and the Memphis Zoo to place these pumas into our care. FedEx agreed to transport the five kittens as a part of the company’s FedEx Cares “Delivering for Good” initiative, in which FedEx uses its global network and logistics expertise to help organizations with mission-critical needs in times of disaster and for special shipments. Our Director of Animal Programs, Courtney Janney, flew out to pick up the kittens and escort them safely to the Memphis Zoo. This rescue would not have been made possible without the quick response of USFW and the generosity of FedEx. The four puma kittens are currently being quarantined at the Memphis Zoo animal hospital and are under the supervision of our Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Felicia Knightly, and her staff. When the kittens arrived at the zoo they were malnourished and dehydrated. However, they are doing well and starting to put on the appropriate weight for growing puma kittens. The staff is taking extra COVID precautions when caring for these kittens. The health and well-being of these rescued kittens are of the upmost importance to the Memphis Zoo.
The puma is known by many names, such as cougar, mountain lion or panther. Pumas range in habitats from mountains to deserts. Pumas have the largest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere; however, their populations have been in significant decline due to human predation. When a puma is found orphaned or injured in the wild, a volunteer coordinating the AZA’s Puma Monitored Program is contacted to help place the pumas at an appropriate facility to care for the animal.