Photo of the Day #281: Cougar


A male cougar (Puma concolor), photographed July 15th, 2008 at the Philadelphia zoo.



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A male Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), photographed July 15th, 2008 at the Philadelphia zoo.
A cougar (Puma concolor), photographed at the Turtleback Zoo.
A Plains zebra (Equus quagga), photographed July 15th, 2008 at the Philadelphia zoo.
A giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), photographed July 15th, 2008 at the Philadelphia zoo.

A random thought just came to my mind.

Given how widely distributed the cougar is, I do wonder from time to time the origins of those that we find in zoos, whether the ancestors of these captive animals originated from the Rockies, or from Argentina, or somewhere in between.

I think it would be extremely interesting if someone could survey the captive population of Puma concolor and come up with a breakdown of the populations and subspecies represented. Right now the only population that I know is managed as a distinct subspecies is the Florida Panther, which I think might not be an actual evolutionarily distinct 'subspecies', but merely represents a population of the North American subspecies of cougar.

It would be a shame if the rest of the cougars are hybrids of mixed parentage, especially if their parents come from widely disparate populations. I think having a North American-Argentinean cougar hybrid is much more serious than say, a Bengal-Indochinese tiger hybrid.

Hai; That's definitely an interesting idea, and I know they've done similar studies on tigers to determine what sorts are in captivity.

The one in the photo (and the two in the same enclosure I didn't photograph) are from western North America. I don't know the full story of the one pictured, but the other two were orphaned when a hunter shot their mother and he rescued them when he found out that she had cubs.