Zoo Buddy: Mountain Lions!

Meet Cairo! He's a baby mountain lion at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 10:17 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - We’ve got a new addition at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe! Cairo is a 16-month-old mountain lion from Tennessee.

“He’s super playful and he’s definitely already become a favorite of the visitors when they show up here for sure,” says carnivore keeper Maria Foster. “These guys will not reach maturity until anywhere between two to three years old. Three years old is the age that females reach sexual maturity and they’re able to breed and have cubs. So he does still have that kitten energy, he does also still have the baby blue kitten eyes. So when he does reach maturity, those eyes are going to change into more of an amber or brown color.”

Foster says the territory for mountain lions is expanding because of deforestation and urbanization in some areas. She says they can be found in the Western United States up to Canada and down into South America.

Their territory is almost as vast as the amount of names they go by! Foster says they’ve got over 40 names in the English language including puma, panther, and catamount.

She says they can get from 7 to 11 feet long and their tail can be up to a third of their body length. They can be anywhere from 75 to 200 pounds.

“And these guys do not roar, like a lion does, which is pretty cool trivia. They actually purr. And the reason they don’t roar is because they don’t have the vocal muscles,” explains General Curator Lisa Taylor.

Foster says they can jump 15 to 18 feet vertically.

“And then horizontally, they can actually jump like 30 to 45 feet,” says Foster. “So their back legs are very long, very powerful. And they’re kind of like springboards. And these guys, their spine, the vertebrae in their spine is actually connected by muscles instead of ligaments. So it makes their spine super flexible.”

You can see Cairo near the other big cats on the Catwalk. The zoo is open every day of the week between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and the splash pad is also open while it’s so hot! You can visit their Facebook Page for more information about the zoo and how to donate items for their animals.