Tails From The Zoo

Cougars at Assiniboine Park Zoo February 22, 2010

Filed under: Wild Cats,Zoo Animals,Zoo Knew — Scott Gray @ 10:05 am

Chris Reid and I talked yesterday (at 7:15 am on CJOB 68’s Weekend Wake-Up Show) about cougars on Zoo Knew. With Ayla the cougar‘s recent passing, we felt it was appropriate to highlight these wonderful animals. You can still see Ayla’s partner Max in his enclosure, located in the North American animal area. The Assiniboine Park Zoo is open all winter from 10 am to 4 pm.


Here are a few fun fast facts that we didn’t have a chance to include in our chat:

  • Cougars are the second largest cat in the Americas. The jaguar is the largest.
  • Cougars are the largest of the three cats that live in Canada (including the lynx and the bobcat).
  • Cougars have the largest range of all terrestrial mammals in the western hemisphere


A Cat of Many Names:

The cougar’s scientific name, Puma concolor, literally means cat of one colour. Regionally though, it is known by many common names, depending on local culture and legend.

  • The Maliseet of New Brunswick call the cougar “pi-twal,” meaning “the long-tailed one.”
  • The English name “cougar” and the French “couguar,” now widely used in Canada, were adapted from the Brazilian native name “cuguacuarana.”
  • The name “mountain lion” is extensively used in the western United States.
  • “Puma” is the native Peruvian name.
  • Other names you may have heard include: mountain lion, Mexican lion, deer tiger, mountain screamer, Florida panther, painter and catamount.



  • The cougar can run as fast as 55 to 72 km/h (35 to 45 mi/h)
  • By comparison, the house cat = 50km and the cheetah = 100km


  • Cougars are obligate carnivores, like all cats, feeding only on meat.
  • Cougars hunt mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose calves, and in the west, bighorn sheep
  • Cougars will also eat a large array of available prey species if they are available. These include birds and other mammals, such as the beaver, snowshoe hare, ground squirrel, and rodents.


Big Air:

  • Cougars have an exceptional vertical leap (up), reported at 5.4 m (18 ft) .
  • Cougars can jump horizontally (along the ground) at nearly 12 m (40 ft) from a standing position.




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