An amazing ambassador who helped awareness of the status of cougars in the wild is how Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo Manager Jeff Mitchell describes Malcolm, the mountain lion that was rescued here in Saskatchewan more than a decade ago. The zoo announced Wednesday that they have to humanely euthanize Malcolm due to old age.
“His charisma and his interactions with guests really helped our guests to understand and learn about cougars. Having such a large cat that used to live in this area and the importance to the environment and ecosystem was second to none. I know he inspired many people to continue their education in wildlife biology and ecology,” Mitchell told SASKTODAY.ca.
“Malcolm was a beloved animal here. Over his 12 years at the zoo, hundreds of thousands of people have seen him and learned about the history and importance of cougars and their impact to the wild. We know everyone who had a chance to see him cared about him as much as we did.”
Mitchell added that Malcolm had other age-related issues. His kidneys were no longer function like they should. Zoo staff also noticed early this year that Malcolm was no longer as agile and had trouble walking.
“When we noticed he wasn’t walking and jumping like normal we scheduled a physical examination with our veterinarians. They did a complete work up including X-rays, which showed the arthritis,” Mitchell said.
He said that they have been treating Malcolm’s arthritis since they discovered it in March.
“We had been treating it since March when it was noticed. He was doing very well on the medications but over the past week he took a turn for the worse and the decision was made at that time.”
Cougars have a life expectancy of nine to 13 years and are listed as Least Concern on the endangered species list but are considered endangered in other Canadian provinces. Habitat loss and fragmentation, and the declining numbers of their prey due to poaching contribute to the threats of cougars being endangered.
Malcolm was rescued with his brother Jethro as cubs in Cypress Hills and both arrived at the zoo in 2009. He became the only cougar in the zoo after Jethro died of heart failure last year.
Mitchell said that they have other plans for the zoo.
“We have plans for the exhibit and are working with other zoos to get those in motion but at this time have nothing to announce.”