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Tue, Feb 28, 2012

Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Get Air Transport To New Home

Two Cubs Flown To Scottsdale, AZ Wildlife Sanctuary

A LightHawk volunteer pilot from Woodside, CA donated a flight in her Pilatus PC-12 single engine turboprop to transport two orphaned, injured mountain lion cubs to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center on Monday.  No word on what in-flight snacks were offered.

(L-R) Ash, Cypress

Brother and sister, they were captured at the end of January by the California Department of Fish and Game after their mother was killed near San Jose. Estimated to be about 12 weeks old at the time, the female cub weighed only 7 pounds and had bite wounds to her back right hamstring and several broken teeth. She was emaciated, weak and covered with fleas and ticks. It was later discovered that she had two broken legs and a broken jaw. An employee of the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary in Folsom, CA, provided around-the-clock care at her home to the cubs, who are recovering well. The zoo is unable to keep both mountain lion cubs due to budget cuts.
 
Because the cubs were so bonded and had been through so much, zoo officials hoped they could stay together. The zoo worked with California Fish and Game and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) in Scottsdale to transfer the two to SWCC, the only facility that could give the California cubs a home together.

Known as Cypress and Ash, the cubs were flown to Scottsdale by Joy Covey of Woodside, CA, a private pilot who is donating her services through LightHawk, North America’s largest and oldest volunteer-based environmental aviation organization. "It took a lot people working together to save the lives of these beautiful young mountain lions," says Linda Searles, Founder and Executive Director of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. "We rely on collaborative relationships like those we have with LightHawk, the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, California Fish and Game and other conservation groups."

"The donated flight will move these mountain lion kittens to their new home without the stress of commercial air travel or a 15-hour drive," explains Rudy Engholm, Executive Director of LightHawk. "And the volunteer pilot will have the bragging rights of carrying some pretty cute passengers."

The cubs — which can grow to more than 100 pounds as adults — will eventually live in a large enclosure with other mountain lions at Southwest Wildlife.

FMI: www.lighthawk.org

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