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The EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature announces opening of one of largest mountain lion exhibits in New England

Worcester, Mass. – April 10, 2019

The EcoTarium museum of science and nature enthusiastically announces that 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, scheduled to open to the public on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 10 a.m. 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 and meets all accreditation standards and USDA requirements to house large carnivores. Comprised of grass, trees, rocky alcoves and outcroppings that allow the cats to utilize their natural abilities of climbing, scratching and jumping. Museum guests will soon have the opportunity for an up-close experience with the species that were once native to New England and declared extinct in the eastern U.S. in 2018.

“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. The cats will be trained as all animals at the museum are using positive reinforcement. Objectives include: voluntary shifting, crating, getting onto a scale, presenting their body and paws for evaluations, opening their mouths, and eventually participating in voluntary injections and blood draws on site for their annual vet visits and vaccinations, aimed to decrease stress through cooperation.

“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.

The EcoTarium will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting and exhibit preview for museum members and invited guests on Friday, May 10, 2019, at 10 a.m. On Saturday, May 11, Wild Cat Station will be open to the general public as an outdoor exhibit that is included with general admission.
Hale added, “It’s very special to have an exhibit that has been beloved by our community for decades – to be rehabilitated as a safe home for these cats to live their lives out with us.”

PHOTO CAPTION: The female mountain lion kitten is one of two mountain lions at the center of Wild Cat Station, 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. PHOTO CREDIT: Oakland Zoo

About the EcoTarium
The EcoTarium museum of science and nature in Worcester, Massachusetts offers an indoor-outdoor experience to visitors of all ages. Guests are encouraged to explore three floors of indoor interactive exhibits, live animal habitats, exciting shows in the digital planetarium, daily science discovery programs, hikes through forest and meadow nature trails, outdoor imaginative play, and a narrow-gauge railroad Explorer Express Train. Founded in 1825, it has been a leader in informal science and nature education for nearly 200 years, and today still intent on inspiring a passion for science and nature, welcomes more than 175,000 visitors per year. For more information, visit ecotarium.org.

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