Wild Cat Station Opens this Weekend at the Ecotarium

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine
The female mountain lion kitten is one of two mountain lions at the center of Wild CatStation, a new spectacular outdoor exhibit at the EcoTarium museum of science and nature, scheduled to open to the public on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 10 a.m.

Visitors to the Ecotarium can get an up-close experience with a species that once roamed New England, but was declared extinct in the eastern U.S. in 2018. Two mountain lions and several native bird species are at the center of Wild Cat Station, a new spectacular outdoor exhibit at the EcoTarium museum of science and nature, opening to the public on Saturday, May 11.

Through innovative design and re-purposing of a former polar bear habitat, the permanent mountain lion habitat ranges across two stories in height, offering multiple viewing stations for guests. It is one of the largest mountain lion exhibits in the U.S. at 18,500 square feet. Comprised of grass, trees, rocky alcoves and outcroppings that allow the cats to utilize their natural abilities of climbing, scratching and jumping. 

“We are excited to bring these kittens to Worcester with the help of our amazing community of supporters who funded Phase II our Third Century Plan,” shared EcoTarium President & CEO Lucy Hale.

The brother and sister kittens were found emaciated in Half Moon Bay, California. After observation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife deemed they were orphaned and brought them to Oakland Zoo for vet care. Both were infected with external and internal parasites.

The male, in particular, had sustained injuries to his face and principally his nose, most likely due to interactions with other wildlife. Due to their lack of survival skills, they were unable to be returned to their natural environment. Because the Zoo already has three mountain lions acquired in late 2017, the EcoTarium worked with them through Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for safe transport of the cats.

Curator of Living Collections at the EcoTarium Johanna Black and a team of wildlife keepers will care for the large cats handling their nutrition, enrichment, and medical care. 

“We are very fortunate to offer an enriching environment for the orphaned kittens to grow into,” said Black, “and also to bring guests closer to an animal that many do not get to observe in a natural environment.”

The bird habitats at Wild Cat Station will house vultures, corvid species, and a hawk. All species are native and serve major roles in the ecosystem as predators and scavengers and contribute to rodent control. The site will also offer educational information regarding the use of rodenticide and the implications it has on various species in the natural environment.