Cougars are known by many names including panther, puma, and mountain lion. Swift runners, agile climbers, and great swimmers with agile bodies, cougars are a top predator. They are solitary night hunters that have excellent eyesight and superb hearing. They eat primarily white-tailed deer, but also enjoy smaller game such as opossums, raccoons, rodents, and rabbits. Cougars prefer stalking their prey closely, utilizing the element of surprise. Strong jaws and long canine teeth make it possible for them to kill their prey with one bite. Once found throughout much of North America, cougars are now absent from most of their natural range. The cougar population declined due to habitat destruction, decrease of their main food supply, and uncontrolled hunting and trapping. Still fairly abundant in some of the sparsely populated western states, the only known cougar population still found in eastern North America is the Florida panther. It is thought that the eastern cougar, the breed native to the Southern Appalachian region, is now extinct.
Date of Birth: Summer 2010
Mitchell came to the WNC Nature Center in September of 2010 from the Oregon Zoo with his brother, Pisgah. Someone found the cougars in the wild at just 4-5 weeks old and took them to a rehabilitator in Oregon. From there, the Oregon Zoo housed them and shortly after, the WNC Nature Center became their home. Sadly, Pisgah passed away in September 2018.
Cougars stay with their mother for up to two years learning how to hunt and survive. Since Mitchell was orphaned at a very young age, he never learned critical survival skills and doesn’t fear humans.
What Makes Mitchell Unique? Like most cats, Mitchell loves fish! On hot summer days, his caretakers will help him to cool off with homemade popsicles containing pieces of trout and other yummy treats.
Mitchell got his name through a contest at the WNC Nature Center. He is named after Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountain range.