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The EcoTarium Unveils Wild Cat Station Outdoor Habitat Featuring Two Orphaned Mountain Lions

Worcester, Mass. – May 10, 2019 The EcoTarium museum of science and nature held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to unveil one of their boldest exhibits yet – Wild Cat Station, presented by The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, featuring a set of sibling mountain lions and several native bird species. At the heart of Wild Cat Station is a dramatic and intimate experience of mountain lions in their natural New England habitat. Utilizing and transforming the former polar bear habitat, the pair of lions will be at home in their re-created mountainous terrain while visible from multiple viewing angles by our visitors. The program included City of Worcester Councilor Mero-Carlson, Former Secretary Beaton of the Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, John C. Roche of The Hanover Insurance Group Inc., and Keiko Orrall, MA Office of Travel & Tourism. Following the ribbon-cutting, an exhibit preview for museum members was held. Wild Cat Station will be open to the general public on Saturday, May 11, as an outdoor exhibit that is included with general admission.

“It is really significant for us to open this fantastic exhibit,” added EcoTarium President/CEO Lucy Hale. “After so many years unused since closing as our polar bear habitat, we have both the responsibility and the privilege to provide the best possible experience in this repurposed space.”

Wild Cat Station completed Phase II of the organization’s Third Century Plan Campaign to strengthen indoor and outdoor exhibits, programs and create extraordinary spaces where families can connect and explore together. The exhibit was the final of four components in Phase II that raised more than $9 million. Lead funders included Worcester-based The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, part of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., and the C. Jean and Myles McDonough Foundation. The project was designed by Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects and managed by Cutler Associates. The Hanover Insurance Group CEO John C. Roche was a key participant at the exhibit unveiling and ribbon-cutting, where he acknowledged the Foundation’s contribution and excitement on behalf of the community.

“We are proud to support the EcoTarium and serve as the presenting sponsor of Wild Cat Station,” said John C. Roche, president and chief executive officer of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. “The EcoTarium offers countless learning opportunities for youth in our region, helping to bring STEM concepts to life, and encouraging further study and exploration. We are proud to have the opportunity to help bring this exhibit to our community.”

An exciting portion of the ceremony was the announcement of the mountain lion kitten names: the male name was auctioned off at EcoTarium’s signature fundraiser A Night at the Museum held on April 27, 2019. “Salton” was chosen; it is a combination of the two last names of the winning bidders. The organization extended female mountain lion-naming rights to their members, the public was then given the opportunity to vote on the narrowed-down list. “Freyja” is the female name after a close race primarily shared through social media channels.

The newly designed state-of-the-art cat care center offers the wildlife team and veterinary partners a tremendous capacity for animal husbandry, care and vital storage, allowing the museum staff to adapt to continually changing best practices for animal care, training and enrichment.

Named the Arthur M. and Martha R. Pappas Educational Plaza for their foundation’s generous contribution, the expanded space will serve as an essential platform for educational programming for schools, educators and for curious visitors.

The brother and sister kittens were found emaciated and orphaned in Half Moon Bay, California and brought to Oakland Zoo for vet care. The EcoTarium worked with the zoo through Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for safe transport of the cats.

EcoTarium cat keepers follow the highest animal care standards to ensure the cats and all resident wildlife have access to the best nutrition, medical car positive reinforcement training and enrichment on a daily basis. As one of the largest mountain lion exhibits in the U.S. at 18,500 square feet, Wild Cat Station meets all accreditation standards and USDA requirements to house large carnivores. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:
(1) A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to unveil Wild Cat Station, a new outdoor exhibit featuring two mountain lions and native bird species at the EcoTarium museum of science and nature in Worcester. L-R: EcoTarium Lead Cat Keeper Rachel Davison, EcoTarium Curator of Living Collections Johanna Black, City of Worcester City Councilor Mero-Carlson, EcoTarium Board Chair Paul Belsito, CEO, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. John C. Roche, EcoTarium President / CEO Lucy Hale on podium
(2) Former Secretary Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs Matt Beaton shares words about personal and community benefits that the museum has had in over the years.
(3) Wild Cat Station exhibit at the EcoTarium ceremonial ribbon-cutting is shared, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. President /CEO John C. Roche holds the scissors as the lead funder of the project, while museum trustees, donors and members participate.
(4) The excitement as Wild Cat Station is unveiled, the newest permanent outdoor exhibit at the EcoTarium in Worcester, MA.

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.