Cougar Mountain Zoo unveils cougar cubs

June 28, 2011

Months after Cougar Mountain Zoo’s iconic cougar Nashi died, keepers unveiled a trio of month-old cougar cubs June 23.

Cougar Mountain Zoo plans to unveil cougar cubs to the public July 16. Contributed

The cubs — one male and two females born May 20 — should go on display July 16. In the meantime, zoogoers might see the cubs during unscheduled public appearances after July 1.

“The cubs are absolutely adorable! They are extremely playful and curious about everything,” zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said in a news release. “I can’t wait to bring them home and introduce them to our zoo visitors.”

Barfoot and Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar picked up the then-2-pound cubs at a Wisconsin zoo.

The cubs replace Nashi, a longtime denizen at the nonprofit zoo. Nashi died in February at age 17. Keepers started the search for cougar cubs soon after.

The zoo lacked a namesake big cat in the months since Nashi’s death.

“We are still recovering from losing Nashi this past February. He was an incredible and iconic cougar,” Barfoot said. “With the addition of these new cubs, our hearts are happy again. The cubs have a lot to live up to, but so far, they are doing a fantastic job. They are healthy, happy cubs and I think our visitors will give them a wonderful welcome.”

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Remember Issaquah zoo’s beloved cougar Saturday

March 25, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. March 25, 2011

Join other zoogoers to remember the cougar Nashi, the beloved and iconic Cougar Mountain Zoo denizen, at a Saturday celebration.

Nashi died at age 17 late last month. The celebration starts at 2 p.m. at the zoo, 19525 S.E. 54th St. The zoo plans to open the stage for zoogoers and zookeepers to talk about Nashi.

The orphaned cougar cub arrived at the nonprofit zoo from Minnesota woods more 17 years ago.

The other cougar at the zoo, Merlin, died in 2008, and General Curator Robyn Barfoot is raising money to refurbish the cougar habitat and acquire cubs for the exhibit.

The zoo is seeking donations to cover the expected $10,000 cost. Zoogoers can donate at the zoo website.

Last cougar dies at Issaquah zoo

March 15, 2011

Nashi, a cougar at Cougar Mountain Zoo, died from old age Feb. 24. Contributed

The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors, Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

“He was a fantastic cougar. He had a lot of spunk in him,” she said. “He enjoyed talking with the visitors every day.”

The Nashi Memorial Celebration will be at March 26 at the zoo. Instead of holding its traditional cougar lecture, the zoo will open the stage for people to talk about Nashi. Staff members who raised and worked with him will talk about his life.

“I used to joke around that he’s a rock star, because he is,” Barfoot said.

At the zoo, Nashi would model for product labels, television shows and nature documentaries.

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Cougar dies at Cougar Mountain Zoo; curator plans memorial

March 14, 2011

Nashi, a cougar at Cougar Mountain Zoo, died from old age Feb. 24 at age 17. Contributed

NEW — 2:15 p.m. March 14, 2011

The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors, Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

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Cougar Mountain Zoo offers talk about tigers

February 15, 2011

A Bengal tiger is captured on film in Kanha National Tiger Preserve, India. By Robyn Barfoot

On Feb. 27, Cougar Mountain Zoo will host a lecture on the dilemma of the Bengal tiger.

General Curator and Zoo Manager Robyn Barfoot will be the speaker.

“The lecture was the suggestion of one of our zoo members who wanted to know about my trip to India and the conservation work I had done,” Barfoot said. “She suggested making it a public meeting and I ran with it.”

According to Barfoot, the Bengal tiger has seen a 97 percent drop in its population in the past 100 years. In search of answers, she recently made a visit to India and met with directors from different tiger parks as well as the director of the World Wildlife Fund.

The lecture will go more in-depth on the subject of the tiger and discuss ways people can help.

“I will have a slideshow of photos from my trip and will touch on ecotourism in India and what that means for the Bengal Tiger,” Barfoot said. “There will be a Q-and-A section and information on what ‘we’ can do to help the wild tiger. It’s going to be a relaxed environment, encouraging interaction and open discussions about the plight of the tiger.”

Cougar Mountain Zoo is home to four Bengal tigers. Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar has been at the zoo since June 2005 and has worked closely with the tigers since their arrival.

“I work daily with our now four Bengal tigers with general husbandry, feeding, medicating (if needed) and training,” Puskar said. “From the tools obtained by the zoo and Robyn, I do my best to provide anyone I encounter a vast amount of information about this vanishing species.”

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Find reindeer games aplenty at Cougar Mountain Zoo

November 30, 2010

Santa Claus feeds apple slices to Olive the reindeer last year at the barn attached to Santa’s House during the annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Reindeer Festival raises money for exhibits

Not many people can name all nine of Santa’s reindeer, but Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot can name 10.

That’s right. There’s Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen — not to mention Rudolph — and, Olive, as in “All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names; they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”

“Zookeepers have a very strange sense of humor,” Barfoot said.

There weren’t always 10 reindeer at Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo. The first group of reindeer, six in all, came directly from Siberia 23 years ago. Though at the zoo — and in Issaquah, no less — the reindeer not only help Santa every Christmas season but also bring in much-needed dollars for the zoo, which has a slow season during the cold, rainy months. Read more

Wallabies hop to Cougar Mountain Zoo habitat

November 9, 2010

Lantana, a female wallaby, carries Hemlock, then 9 months old, in her pouch while they share Easter treats in April at Cougar Mountain Zoo. By Cougar Mountain Zoo

The Cougar Mountain Zoo’s swamp wallaby family is growing, and so is its habitat.

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Agoraphobic painter finds friends at artEAST

November 2, 2010

Michelle Ryan smiles while standing beside two of her polymer clay collage shadow boxes recently at the original UP Front Art gallery. By Greg Farrar

For years, Michelle Ryan could not bear to go outside. She had stationed herself on her living room couch, doing crossword puzzles, watching TV and recovering from a series of medical problems.

Then, a light came into her life in the forms of a paintbrush and the welcoming crew at artEAST, an Issaquah art cooperative.

Ryan’s life has taken her across the country, but she moved to Issaquah in 1990, working as an echo cardiographer, taking ultrasounds of peoples’ hearts. In 1998, her health left her on disability, and she ended up staying indoors for the next four years. Read more

Issaquah zoo raises more than $50,000 to add cheetahs

October 22, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 22, 2010

Cougar Mountain Zoo is more than $50,000 closer to opening a cheetah exhibit.

The zoo hosted a gala fundraiser last month to raise some of the $100,000 needed to add cheetahs a big cat collection comprised of tigers and a cougar. The masquerade soiree raised $51,800 through ticket sales, auctions and the chance to purchase a photo alongside a 4-year-old female cheetah.

Cougar Mountain Zoo aims to become the first facility in Washington to open a cheetah exhibit.

Zoo leaders announced plans last summer to add a cheetah exhibit and plan to construct and open the habitat by late 2011 or early 2012.

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Zoo offers chance for photos with cheetah

August 31, 2010

Cougar Mountain Zoo has raised all but about $100,000 needed for the Issaquah institution to open a cheetah exhibit, possibly as early as next year.

The zoo has planned a posh Cheetah Masquerade Gala for Sept. 18 to help meet the fundraising goal. Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot announced a special treat for attendees at the gala: the chance to have their photo taken next to a cheetah.

Only a lucky handful can get up close to the cheetah — a 4-year-old female named Taini from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. — by bidding for three photo opportunities up for grabs in a silent auction.

Wildlife Safari, a drive-through preserve about 90 minutes south of Eugene, is the only facility in the Pacific Northwest to exhibit cheetahs.

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