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One male, Dakota, and two females, Cinnabar and Sage. All three were born in the wild and were found orphaned in South Dakota's Black Hills. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks rescued the cats on October 4, 2005. They were determined to be about 3 months old and were brought here to the Zoo on October 27, 2005.
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While they're young, puma kittens are spotted and have bluish eyes. But they grow fast, and they soon lose their spots. Adult pumas typically have a tannish-colored coat much like the African lion but the color can range from a grayish to dark brown. They also have small heads and small, rounded, ears that are black on the back. The most recognizable feature of the puma is the long, heavy, black-tipped tail, which measures almost two-thirds the length of the head and body.
Pumas have extraordinary vision and are remarkably fast. They are the largest cats usually found in the United States. Pumas once lived throughout most of the country, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but they're now found mostly west of the Mississippi, with a small population of about 50 animals surviving in Florida.
There is no fixed mating season and kittens can be born at any time of year; in North America, the majority of births occur in late winter and early spring. Females are usually ready to have kittens by about 2 1/2 years of age and give birth to litters of up to five kittens after about a three month gestation.
Pumas are essentially solitary, strongly territorial hunters. They are likely to be more active during the day than many other cat species. Normally, pumas are very elusive, and people rarely get more than a brief glimpse of them in the wild.
The predatory behavior of a puma is very similar to the domestic cat. The puma will attempt to conceal itself for a surprise attack while stalking its prey. It will assume a crouched position with the tail twitching and the ears upright. An agitated puma may snarl and lay its ears back.
These cats spend most of their time on the ground, but they are adept at climbing trees. From a standing position, they can jump a vertical distance of up to 15 feet and a horizontal distance of 40 feet.
Pumas purr but are not able to roar (only lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars can roar). In addition to purring, adult pumas make a lower-pitched squeal that attracts attention. Adult males and sometimes adult females make "scrapes" - small piles of dirt kicked up with their back feet. In the wild, individuals visiting a scrape often change direction immediately afterward which probably means that scrapes serve as territory markers. Adult males also make scrapes when courting females.
Adult males may be more than 8 feet long and females may be up to 7 feet long.
Adult males may weigh about 150 pounds, while females may weigh about 100 pounds.
Puma’s will eat anything they can catch including insects; however their primary prey in the wild are ungulates – they especially like deer. At the Zoo, their diet includes a commercial meat mix, beef long bones and half shank bones as well as whole prey such as rabbits. Half of a beef shank bone is offered once a week; the pumas enjoy tearing the nearly 3 lbs of meat from the bones. In addition to food, the shank bones provide exercise for the animal’s jaw muscles.
The puma has the largest natural distribution of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere except for humans, ranging from Canada in the north through Central America to the southern tip of South America. They're able to live in a variety of climates--from the hot southern tropics to the cold northern Rocky Mountains.
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