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Carlo – In Memory


Carlo arrived with his siblings Langley and Noah in 2009. Sadly, there were five very young siblings whose mother had been shot by a bow hunter in Wyoming. When the hunter got too close to the cougar den where they were living, he was confronted by an adult female. He killed her in self-defense.

Moments later, the hunter heard the cubs and realized why this cougar had been so defensive. Thankfully, he did the right thing by bringing the cubs to  the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

They determined the cubs could not be rehabilitated or released.  We agreed to take in three females from this orphaned group while another facility would take in the two males.

Instead, we were surprised to learn we’d received two males and one female. Such is rescue, you have to stay flexible and deal with circumstances you can’t predict.

These three cubs were named by supporters through a special auction held during our annual Jungle Boogie gala – female Langley and males Noah and Carlo.

Cubs Growing Up

We were able to successfully merge Langley, Noah and Carlo with two other orphaned cougar cubs, Andre (from British Columbia) and Donoma (from Montana). They live in one of our largest habitats where they have tons of room to roam.

From the time he was little, Carlo’s had an obsession with balls.  Every afternoon, he can be seen (and heard!) chasing his favorite ball around his habitat. Summer, winter, spring or fall, it’s great exercise for him. He can even carry the ball with his two front legs, dumping it in his pool or carrying it up on his platforms. He’s become an amazing soccer playing cougar!

How You Can Help

Rescuing orphaned wild cats is such an expensive commitment since it means 20+ years of care. That’s why our sponsorship program is so important. It helps provide the best life possible for those we’re able to rescue.

Thank you for considering becoming Carlo’s sponsor parent, or even giving a one time donation toward his care.  It makes such a difference for him!


In Memory

We’re devastated to share the news that cougar Carlo, of our ‘5 wild group,’ had to be humanely euthanized. It happened suddenly and we’re still trying to wrap our heads around his loss.

I’m so thankful for the caretakers paying such close attention to every single cat. And our vet team who intervenes on a moment’s notice so that one our beloved residents never has to suffer.

Caretakers noticed Carlo wasn’t interested in his meal and had labored breathing.  Immediately, our vet performed an emergency procedure because Carlo had bloat – a deadly condition when the stomach flips.  It happens in large breed dogs, but we’ve never had it happen in a big cat.

Once our vet fixed the bloat, we did more radiographs to determine why it happened.  Sadly, we found that Carlo had an advanced fungal infection (blastomycosis) in his lungs.  It’s a fungus that releases spores and can come on fast.

It’s rarely successfully treated in wildcats. Sadly, our vet said that his stomach would twist again since he was swallowing air.  A twisted stomach would be a painful death.

Our vet thinks Carlo was susceptible to blastomycosis because of the immune suppressant he was on to keep his skin allergies in check.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  He was almost 13 years old.

But I don’t want Carlo to be remembered for his death. Instead, I want to celebrate who he was and the 13 years he brought so much joy to us and his companions.

After being orphaned in the wild, Carlo arrived with his siblings Noah and Langley when they were just six weeks old. He grew up at the sanctuary and his cougar family grew to five as we introduced them to more orphaned cubs we rescued, Donoma and Andre.

At an early age, we discovered Carlo loved toy balls.  No, I mean REALLY loved them.  So much so that he became known as the soccer playing cougar.  His antics always amazed us and brought a smile to our face.

He never carried the ball in his mouth, but instead used his front arms to toss and carry the ball to wherever he was.

Dribbling the ball along the long fence line was his favorite past time.  But he held up feeding time in the building because Carlo had to ensure his ball came inside with him.

We could hear the ball hit the outside wall several times before getting the winning shot through the guillotine door into his room.

But he still wasn’t ready to eat.  First, he needed to slam dunk his ball perfectly in the water bucket where it was a tight fit.

After eating, he banged the ball all over his room. His playtime started to cause damage to the walls, so we had to reinforce them with plastic.

But if that wasn’t impressive enough, Carlo would also sit upright, hold his ball, and bring it into their 4-foot-high pool. Seeing a fully submerged wet cougar tossing a ball was quite a sight to see, especially as he balanced on the rim.

But what amazed his fans and family the most was when he would manage to carry the ball in his front arms, tossing it up the first platform, then the next and the next until it was up on the 16-foot-high platform with him.



Even with several balls in their habitat, we rarely saw the other cougars have as much fun with the toy ball as Carlo did.  That is, until a few days after Carlo’s passing.

Caretaker Alyssa captured an amazing moment.  Langley, the most aloof cougar of the ‘5 Wild’ group, brought a ball inside her bedroom and was playing with it just like Carlo had!!  We had to take a double take to believe what we were seeing.  It was tears of happiness and sadness all wrapped into one.

It just proves that Carlo will always be with us and his cougar family.  He lives on with his siblings, in our hearts, and in our memories.

There will never be another soccer playing Carlo, but I’m happy to see he has left a lasting impression on the team he leaves behind.


10/7/2009 ~ Five cougar cubs were orphaned in Cokeville, WY. A bow hunter unknowingly climbed too close to the cougar’s den and was confronted by the adult female. The hunter shot and killed her in self-defense. Moments later the hunter heard the cubs and realized why the cougar had been so defensive. He brought the cubs to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department where it was determined the cubs could not be rehabilitated or released.

Terry J. Kreeger, DVM, PhD Supervisor, Veterinary Services Branch asked the Wildlife Science Center (WSC) in Forest Lake and the Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) in Sandstone to provide permanent homes for the cubs. WSC agreed to take 2 males and TWS agreed to take 3 females.

“We are delighted to help out whenever we can, and it benefits both organizationsCougar Cubs - Noah, Carlo, and Langley to work together on a case like this. The cougar cubs will add tremendous value to our predator studies and education programs.” Callahan said.

This is not the first rescue the organizations have worked together on, says Tammy Thies, Director of The Wildcat Sanctuary. “Both organizations have a strong rooted belief in wildlife conservation and educating the public on why wild animals do not make good pets. We prefer to see these animals in their wild habitat, but if that can’t happen, we are happy we can provide them a natural setting at the Sanctuary.” Thies says.