3 orphaned cougar kittens now call N.C. Zoo home

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Three cougar kittens now call the North Carolina Zoo home.

The kittens -- or cubs -- arrived late Monday night from Oregon, after pilots with LightHawk volunteered and donated their resources to transport the animals to North Carolina.

“We couldn’t have gotten the kittens here at this age without LightHawk. They would have had to stay at the Oregon Zoo several more months before arriving here. By doing it this way, it also allowed us to have someone with the kittens during the entire trip to make sure their needs were met,” Said Ken Reininger, general curator at the N.C. Zoo.

The kittens were supposed to arrive in Greensboro but due to bad weather, the flight was diverted to Charlotte, where zoo keepers from the N.C. Zoo brought the cougars back to the zoo.

The kittens are around two months old. They became orphans after a hunter killed their mother in Oregon in January. They were then taken to the Oregon Zoo where zoo keepers helped wean them.

Now that the kittens are at N.C. Zoo, they are under a 30 day quarantine -- which is mandatory for all new animals.

Once they are out of quarantine, zoo visitors will be able to see them in the cougar exhibit in the zoo’s Cypress Swamp complex.