Orphan cougar from Idaho on display at Oregon Zoo

Orphan cougar from Idaho on display at Oregon Zoo
Paiute, an orphaned cougar from Idaho, explores his new home at the Oregon Zoo. Photo by Deidre Lantz, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

From the Oregon Zoo

Paiute, the Oregon Zoo’s new male cougar, is now available for viewing at the Cougar Crossing exhibit. | Watch a video of Paiute the cougar

Earlier this year, he was found as an orphaned cub by Idaho Fish and Game agents. They contacted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ puma population manager, Michelle Schireman at the Oregon Zoo, for help in placing the animal at an accredited institution.  

“We’re happy that we can give Paiute a permanent home at the Oregon Zoo,” said Virginia Grimley, North America keeper. “He is a very inquisitive and energetic animal, and I think he will be great at helping educate our guests about cougars and cougar conservation.”

Paiute was brought to the Oregon Zoo in March, but spent the past three months in quarantine, getting used to his new home and neighbors.

“Paiute is getting very comfortable in Cougar Crossing,” Grimley said. “We took a long time introducing him to the exhibit and to Chinook. Animal welfare is our top priority at the Oregon Zoo, and we tried to make the whole experience as easy as possible for him.”

Cougars –– also known as mountain lions, pumas and (in Florida) panthers –– live mostly in the western United States and Canada. They weigh from 75 to 130 pounds and have a carnivorous diet both in the wild and at the zoo. Females are either pregnant or raising cubs for the majority of their lives. After three months of gestation, two to three cubs are usually born in a litter and live with their mother for up to two years.

With the exception of the Florida panthers, cougars are not listed as endangered, but they do face many challenges in other parts of the country due to human encroachment and habitat destruction.

Video footage of Paiute the cougar

The zoo is a service of Metro, and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. With award-winning programs in conservation, exhibits, education and animal enrichment, the zoo is a national leader in animal welfare and wildlife preservation. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save many endangered and threatened species, including California condors, Washington’s pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles, Oregon spotted frogs and Kincaid’s lupine.

The zoo opens at 8 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit www.trimet.org for fare and route information.

General admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $2 per car is also required. Additional information is available at www.oregonzoo.org or by calling 503-226-1561.