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Also known as the Mountain Lion, Puma, or Panther, the Cougar (Puma concolor) is an incredibly agile and elusive big cat native to the Americas. Here at the Abilene Zoo, you can find these beautiful animals in our Elm Creek Backyard. Let’s dive into some exciting facts about the Cougar’s diet, habitat, size, and conservation status.
Cougars are carnivorous predators, primarily preying on large mammals such as deer, elk, and moose. However, their diet can vary based on the availability of prey in their habitat. They also hunt smaller animals like rabbits, rodents, birds, and even insects. Cougars are known for their exceptional stalking abilities and can take down prey much larger than themselves thanks to their powerful muscles and impressive agility.
Cougars have an extensive range, stretching from Canada to South America. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, mountains, grasslands, and swamps. They prefer areas with dense underbrush and rocky terrain, which provide them with cover for stalking prey and establishing dens for their young.
Cougars are one of the largest cats in the Americas, with males being significantly larger than females. Males can weigh between 115 and 220 pounds (52 to 100 kg), while females typically weigh between 64 and 141 pounds (29 to 64 kg). Their body length, excluding the tail, ranges from 3.9 to 6.5 feet (1.2 to 2 meters), with a tail that can add an additional 25 to 37 inches (65 to 95 cm).
The Cougar is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, their population varies significantly across their range. In the United States, some populations are stable, while others are declining due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and human conflict. In certain regions, such as California, the Cougar is a protected species, and conservation efforts are in place to preserve their habitat and ensure their long-term survival.
During your visit to the Abilene Zoo, make sure to stop by the North American Wildlife exhibit to catch a glimpse of the majestic Cougar. With their sleek, tawny coats and mesmerizing eyes, these big cats are an incredible sight to behold. As you learn about their unique adaptations and the conservation efforts in place to protect them, you’ll gain a new appreciation for these powerful predators.