We’ve rescued many cougars through the years. But, Liberty’s journey stands out as an example of what too many captive exotic animals have to endure.
We arrived on a rural farm to pick up a cougar who was being surrendered by her owner. What we found astonished us: Liberty was no larger than a lynx. She was emaciated and dehydrated. We could not get over how small in stature this cougar was.
The owner explained that she had fed only milk to Liberty her first year of life and that Liberty had fractured both of her back legs, which had gone untreated. Liberty cannot extend her back legs fully, and she has a severe curvature of the spine and pelvis. The tops of her ears were dangling by a small amount of flesh and were about to fall off. She had urine burns on both sides of her tail.
The owner said Liberty wasn’t eating or drinking very well, but Liberty ate four times the first night she arrived at TWS and eight additional meals the next day. She continues to love her food – in fact, she is the first to cry out in excitement when she hears the keepers at mealtime! — and has put on weight each day.
Liberty weighed 45 lbs. upon arrival at TWS in 2008. This is the size of a six- month-old cougar – Liberty is six years old. The initial fecal exam showed Liberty also had round worms and coccidia, a type of bacterial infection.
Though Liberty’s journey has been rough, she finally has a life that will ring true to her name. She has become such a social cougar and her chirp can be heard constantly. For a small girl, she sure shows her roommate who is boss!