UH Moment

UH Moment: Houston Zoo Welcomes Two Cougar Cubs, Including Shasta VII

“We couldn’t be more excited about continuing this time-honored tradition in cultivating Cougar spirit”


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Two cougar cubs, found alone in Washington state, have found a new home at the Houston Zoo. Shortly after sending out the word that the Zoo had room and expertise to care for cougars, the organization was contacted by the Washington State Fish & Wildlife Services when a rancher found two orphaned male cubs on his property. At an estimated four-weeks-old when found in late October, it was unlikely the cubs would have survived on their own. Within days, the duo flew to the Lone Star State and are settling into life at the Houston Zoo. The cubs will remain behind the scenes as they get comfortable with their caregivers.

The eight-week-old boys have been named Shasta VII and Louie. Shasta VII, as well as Louie, will carry the long-standing tradition in partnership with the University of Houston Alumni Association and be ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild while faithfully representing the cougar spirit of the University of Houston from their home at the Houston Zoo.

The Houston Zoo plans to share updates on the pair as they continue to grow and will invite the public to meet them after they are introduced to their new habitat. Shasta has shown himself to be the leader of the two by being protective of his smaller brother and being the calmer, more confident cub. Shasta often sleeps or rests with a paw over Louie.

"We couldn't be more excited about continuing this time-honored tradition in cultivating Cougar spirit with help from Shasta VII," said Mike Pede ('89) associate vice president for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at UH. "We are grateful for our partnership with the Houston Zoo and credit them for their care and compassion of both Shasta VII and Louie. I know all Cougars everywhere will welcome them to Houston and to the University of Houston family."

University of Houston students receive free admission to the Houston Zoo by reserving tickets at www.HoustonZoo.org/discounts. A current student ID is required when entering with the free ticket.

The Zoo said goodbye to its former cougars, Shasta VI and Haley, earlier this year as the two elderly felines were euthanized several months apart for declining health. Both animals had spinal and kidney illnesses which is common in older cats. While the animal health and care teams worked tirelessly to treat both cougars, it was determined that their wellbeing would not improve. The Houston Zoo is committed to providing the best-possible welfare for the animals in their care from birth to death. Haley and Shasta VI will be remembered while the new additions are celebrated.

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