Sue Sabik talks to the newest arrival at the Thompson Park Zoo - a couger cub. "Hey little man, how you doing this morning? You hungry? How have you been? You have a good night? I know, you're hungry. Just a minute. There you go," she croons.
"We are listening to a very young, male mountain lion that was found orphaned out in the state of Montana," Sabik explains. "They estimate he was born about the middle of July, and he arrived here at the New York State Zoo in mid-September."
The cub weighed only 12 pounds upon arrival. He's up to 30 pounds now, and could weigh over 120 pounds by the time he reaches adulthood.
"Mountain lions will chirp when they're in a happy mood or they're having some kind of pleasure or joy of being scratched or a favorite toy," Sabik says. "That's how the cubs communicate with mom and dad and with each other. That's a happy sound, he's happy to see me 'cause I have his breakfast with him. They do hiss, they do growl. They can make a loud, cat-like sound, like “Rowr,” like that, but right now he's just learning to chirp and purr."
The mountain lion cub isn't on display yet; the zoo says he'll join the adult female mountain lion in an exhibit this spring, once he's grown a bit. The zoo will hold a contest during the month of January to choose a name for the cub. Check the Facebook page for the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park to learn how to participate in that contest.