Naming some of the beautiful natural gifts of Southern California? Many people wouldn't know where to even start, thanks to the amazing array of animals (both in the ocean and on land), the fabulous flora, the sunshine, and all of the wonders of the wilder world just beyond our doorsteps.
But surely many locals would list "mountain lions" among their most majestic and moving neighbors.
These famous, and famously beloved felines roam our hills, and imaginations, and they often capture our emotions.
That's just what happened when a pair of "abandoned or orphaned" mountain lion cubs, both malnourished, were found beneath a picnic table in Thousand Oaks near the end of 2021.
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The small kittens made heartfelt headlines upon their discovery, and were quickly transported to OC Zoo, where they were to remain under veterinary care until a "permanent home" could be established.
Now a new home has opened, as of May 13, giving the fast-growing sisters, as well as another young cub, a "flexible space" to grow and thrive in: The brand-new large mammal exhibit at the zoo, which is located in Orange.
The third cub, a male, was hit by a vehicle in Monterey in the fall of 2021, and has been convalescing in Orange County over the last several months. Like the two Thousand Oaks sisters, the Monterey mountain lion cub "would likely not survive in the wild and will remain at the OC Zoo," shares the team behind the habitat.
The two-acre space was created to give the cats a "natural-looking environment" while allowing visitors to peek inside. The area includes "... artificial rock walls, climbing platforms, a waterfall and a bridge for the cats to cross overhead."
Joining the three youngsters in the exhibit?
A two-year-old black jaguar from the World Wildlife Zoo in Arizona and an adult mountain lion that arrived at the zoo in 2011 an orphan cub in need of care.
The habitat can be configured into "four separate or connected areas," which is why the zoo is calling its newest addition a "flexible space."
"The OC Zoo has enriched our community for many years," said Donald P. Wagner, Orange County Supervisor of the Third District.
"At only $2 admission per person, visitors can view outdoor habitats and learn about local wildlife from past to present. The current expansion features new rescue animals, something people of all ages can enjoy — I look forward to visiting the exhibit with my family this spring."
Something to watch for from afar: The two sisters will soon be named, and OC Parks, which oversees OC Zoo, will be taking suggestions. Watch the social channels over the coming days to find out more about these two cuties and how to suggest names.
Information on visiting the OC Zoo, including hours, times, and details, can be found here.