Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

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Construction is in progress around our barnyard area. Please bear with us while we make improvements for our animals and guests!

Mountain Lion


Puma concolor

Appearance:  Cougars are known by many names including panther, puma, and mountain lion.  Cougars are large, powerful tan cats with long tails.  They are white underneath with faint black markings on the tips of the ears, tail, and snout.  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.  

Range: 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.

Diet: 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.

Hayla and Noa

Date of Birth: Summer 2023

Hayla and Noa were found alone near White Salmon, Washington. Since cougar cubs stay with their mother for up to two years learning to hunt and survive, they never learned critical survival skills or proper fear of humans. Deemed as suitable ambassadors for their species, they now call the WNC Nature Center home.

The female Hayla is named for the Nantahala River, and the male Noa is named for the Swannanoa River.

Meet our other animals

American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Generally shy and reclusive animals, black bears avoid human contact and are not normally aggressive. Two black bears, Uno and Ursa, live at the Nature Center.

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American Pygmy Goat

American Pygmy Goat

Similar to the Nigerian dwarf goat, the American pygmy is a small goat that only reaches 1-2 feet in height. They vary widely in coloration including white, tan, caramel, gray, and black.

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Red Wolf Karma

American Red Wolf

Red wolves are highly endangered species that has been eliminated from almost all of its natural range. Our breeding pair of red wolves, Oak and Gloria, are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan.

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