Mountain Lions Rescued From Fire And Brought To Columbus Zoo

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Two mountain lion cubs are recovering at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after being rescued from the flames of a wildfire in Montana.

The kittens, just a few weeks old at the time, were rescued by firefighters, suffering from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters discovered the cubs on 48 acres of land burning in western Montana, as they dug a line around the fire, trying to contain the flames.

"The cats were under the fire. The log was actually burning over them," said Lisa Rhodin, with the Montana Wildlife Center. "So they called for a water drop, which is 600 gallons of flame retardant water, so these kitties got a bath."

The kittens were scared and suffering from smoke inhalation, but they somehow survived.

"They were about three pounds when we got them. Their eyes had just begun to open, their ears were still closed shut, they had no teeth," Rhodin said. "I mean, they were pretty much neonates."

Today, they are thriving.

"Every day we see new development. Yesterday was the first day they pounced, the day before was the first day they climbed," said Rhodin. 

Rhodin has been bottle feeding the cubs since their rescue. They have doubled in size in the weeks since.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Director Emeritus Jack Hanna, who owns a home in Montana, heard the story of the cubs' rescue, and arranged to bring them here, as they continue to recover.

"It's amazing they survived. It's hard to believe," said Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Director Emeritus Jack Hanna. "I've been in those fires and it's so hot, the coals, the coals burning days and sometimes weeks later, you can't get near them."

The kittens will be raised without their mother. She has never been seen.

They call them Lewis and Clark since they came from the west. Now, they are on a journey of their own.

"I have never in my life seen a cat like that," Hanna said.

A rare sight, and a remarkable story of survival.

The cubs are receiving medical care, and are not on display to the public.

Jack Hanna says he would like for the cubs to remain at the Columbus Zoo or The Wilds, but he says, they will go to the best home available once they are fully recovered.