Call it a tail of two cougars.
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Grandfather Mountain introduced its newest Western cougars to the public.
Named Logan and Trinity, the sibling duo is now on display in the park’s environmental wildlife habitats.
The Linville, N.C.-based nature preserve and attraction adopted the brother-and-sister cubs in March 2016, after they’d been orphaned in the wilds of Idaho before they could learn to hunt. They were found on an Idaho man’s property that January, emaciated and searching for food. Upon rescuing them, Idaho Fish and Game contacted Grandfather’s habitat staff to see if the mountain could provide the cubs a home.
Grandfather Mountain was lucky enough to have friends in Bob and Susan Wilson, who not only offered financial support for renovations to the cougar habitat, but also granted habitat staff use of their private plane to retrieve the cubs.
They’ve done a bit of growing since their arrival in 2016, at which time work began on the existing cougar habitat to accommodate its new residents. During the renovation, Logan and Trinity lived in The Plaza, Grandfather Mountain’s spacious quarantine facility, where the park’s keepers helped prepare them for life on the mountain.
Logan and Trinity join Aspen, a 14-year-old cougar and favorite of the habitats. Due to their age differences, and the fact that Aspen was born in captivity, the three do not share a living space, but will instead alternate time spent in the habitat.
According to Grandfather Mountain habitats curator Christie Tipton, the big cats’ first day in their new home couldn’t have gone better.
“They are doing amazingly!” she said. “They were so excited, running around, tackling each other, chasing each other, climbing the trees, sharpening their claws; they are just so excited to be in that big habitat. It’s just amazing, and I’m so happy for them.
“They’ve come such a long way from the little cubs that we unloaded off the airplane. Logan is very curious about everything. He’s the one that seems a lot more interested in us, the keepers. He’s very interested in what we do and why we do things. He also likes to talk a lot. Trinity is definitely more wary, but she’s obviously the biggest daredevil. When she got into the new habitat, she climbed all the way to the top of a tree. So, she’s definitely got that going for her.”
Tipton said the cubs are adjusting better than anticipated to their new surroundings, and they’ve had no qualms showing it — sunning on rocks, leaping from tree to tree, wrestling and generally enjoying life as a big cat. So big, in fact, that the last time they were weighed saw Logan, the male, come in at 130 pounds and Trinity at 90 pounds. Both are estimated to be around 2 years old.
Logan was named for the Utah town in which the Grandfather Mountain team landed on their journey West, while Trinity was named for a mountain peak in Idaho.
Environmental Wildlife Habitats
Grandfather Mountain’s environmental wildlife habitats are large enclosures that allow guests to see animals in natural settings. Unlike exhibits found in some zoos that import plants and boulders to recreate an appropriate setting, these enclosures were built around the animals’ actual native habitat.
Viewing areas give guests an up-close perspective of the animals as they live in the wild, and they’re sized generously enough to give the animals ample room to roam as they please, even if it means being out of sight for some privacy.
Animals are also given enrichments throughout the day. Enrichments are special treats, toys or even unfamiliar scents, designed to keep them active and intellectually stimulated.
Animal lovers can purchase enrichment treats and more for Grandfather’s animals by visiting the mountain’s Animal Wish List on Amazon.com, available at http://bit.ly/GMAmazonWishlist.
Grandfather Mountain is open year-round, weather permitting, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. To learn about hours, admission and more, visit www.grandfather.com.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325.