Mountain Lion

ZOO LOCATION: Rocky Mountain Wild

Lifespan: 15-18 years

Wild Diet: Primarily deer, but also elk, coyote and small mammals

Zoo Diet: Feline diet with two fast days per week; bones

Predators: none

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Mountainous, semi-arid terrain, subtropical and tropical forests and swamps from Canada to Argentina.

Characteristics: Mountain lions also know as cougars, pumas or catamounts are the largest cats native to North America; males average 6 ft. from nose to tail and can weigh 130 lbs. or more; females may weigh about 20 lbs. less. Their usually tawny coats range from reddish brown to chocolate brown; darker along their backs and tails with whitish under parts. Mountain lions are easily distinguished from Colorado's other wild cats - bobcat and lynx. Mountain lions, except for their kittens are much larger than bobcat or lynx and have very long tails, up to one-third of their body length.

Behavior: Primarily nocturnal. Secretive, solitary and highly territorial. Home ranges usually 10-40 square miles but can be up to 300 square miles depending on terrain and food supply. While mountain lions tend to avoid people, they can and do live in close proximity to humans. They tend to be more active when there is less human presence.

Reproduction: The range of a male overlaps with several females; will only pair up during breeding which can occur throughout the year. Most females give birth between May and October. Three to four spotted cubs each weighing one pound are born after a gestation of 90-96 days. The cubs are weaned in 6-8 weeks and females mature about 2 years. Females breed about every other year.

Conservation: Mountain lions are the most widely distributed cat in the Americas, and are found in most parts of Colorado, wherever there is an abundance of prey, rough terrain and adequate vegetation to provide hunting cover. They are active year around. As of 2008, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) estimates there are between 4,500 and 5,500 mountain lions in Colorado. While elusive, human/mountain lion encounters have increased in recent years for a variety of reasons. Mountain lions rarely attack people with fewer than a dozen deaths across North America in more than 100 years. Conserving mountain lions is our responsibility. When in lion country be aware of your surroundings, whether your walking through a forest or your neighborhood. For more information on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion, visit