Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Super Secret Saturday Surprise

Saturday morning Kevin sprung his super-secret surprise on me.  He had been planning something for a few weeks but wouldn't clue me in to what it was until we pulled into the parking lot.  He had bought us both a cougar cub encounter at Cougar Mountain Zoo!!!  See, guessing penguin hugging wasn't too far off after all.  The cub encounter allowed us both to go in the cougar enclosure and pet and play with one of the zoos three new cubs. 
The cubs are from a zoo in Wisconsin and I think the keeper said they were orphaned but don't hold me to that.  There is one boy and two girls and we got to play with one of the girl cubs.  The cubs are three months old and are in that "I want to do it myself" kind of tween stage.  She was interested in lots of exploring her enclosure and not as interested in playing with us.  I can't blame her.  The cubs get out once or twice a day to play under supervision in their enclosure since it isn't kitten proofed yet.  I would want to run around and explore too.
Even though she didn't want to play much with us we still got to watch her play and explore and observe her cat behavior.  It is so obvious that domestic cats aren't all that far removed from these guys. 

We did get to pet the cub and they have surprisingly rough hair.  I figured it would be soft like a cat but it isn't.  We also learned that they have spots and blue eyes when they are young.  We were encouraged to pet them on the back and not the belly (we laughed when they told us that; anyone who has owned a cat knows that all too well) and to touch the tail.  They will eventually do blood draws through the tail and want to get the cats used to tail touching as much as possible.  This cub weighed in at 13 pounds but she was all lanky muscle.  It is hard to believe because our cat Ollie is a big boy and he tips the scales at 15 pounds but is about half the size of this cat.  Female cougars get to be about 100 pounds so she still has some growing to do as you can see from her feet.
Look at the size of those paws!
It was so much fun to get to be that close to a cougar cub! It was also fun to be that close and not worry about being eviscerated by a lurking momma cat.  Cougars are fascinating animals but I admit to being a little intimidated by them in the wild.  We had a blast following her around, watching her explore and test her still slightly awkward jumping skills and to play a bit with some of her toys.  Later in the day we watched her two siblings play together and observed some really strong stalking instinct happening already.  It was a blast to watch.

We weren't allowed to pick the cubs up because, well....the cub wasn't interested in being picked up by anybody.  Even her keepers that she knew super well annoyed her when they picked her up.  Cougar cub growls sound a lot liked pissed off domestic cat sounds.  But we also found out that cougars purr.  In fact, they are the largest of the purring cats.  Here is our cub giving the keeper head-butts and purring for her.

Sadly, that isn't a cougar cub stuffed under my shirt.
 She is such a beautiful cat and we can't wait to go back to the zoo to watch her grow up to be a big cougar. We feel invested in her now. 

This was such a wonderful surprise and I am such a lucky woman to have a guy who surprises me with things he knows I will love, like cougar cubs. He was right; it really was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad we had a chance to do it.  It was so much fun.  And you would have been proud of me, I didn't even try to smuggle one of the cubs home with us!


The CilleyGirl said...

How very cool! I grew up not far from there -- other side of Cougar Mtn off Newport Way & 164th -- but only ever drove past the zoo once it went in. I'd love to go back and check it out one day.

Liane said...

That was soooo cool! What a fantastic experience. You are a lucky lady indeed!