An orphaned cougar kitten was transported across the US and is being hand raised at a Boston area zoo.
Zoo New England – the combined website for the Franklin Park Zoo and the Stoneham Zoo – told Blue’s story:
A cougar kitten, approximately four weeks old, has made the journey from central Idaho to Boston, Massachusetts where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo.
Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho [earlier this month] to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.
“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.”
Blue, a male kitten weighing 5 pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in the hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found.
“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian.
Caring for the kitten will require a lot of dedicated attention by the Zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the Zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days. When he is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to make his debut in the cougar exhibit within Treasures of the Sierra Madre in winter 2015.
Zoo New England uploaded this sweet video of Blue being fed on November 12: