Sara Penhallegon founded the Center Valley Animal Rescue in Washington state, near the Olympic Mountains in 2002. Since then, she’s rescued a number of injured or abandoned animals, but recently one rescued itself.
An orphaned cougar cub starving and in need of care managed to find it just in the nick of time, curling up in a pen at Penhallegon animal rehabilitation center.
“It checked itself into rehabilitation, which is a first for us,” Penhallegon told local news. “It had a pile of old hay in there and made itself at home, just curled up in the hay.”
The cougar reportedly wandered into one of the facility’s outdoor enclosures and laid down. Penhallegon said she feared the cub was in dire straits. “I think it went in there to die… And so we just happened to stumble across it in time and started the rehabilitation process,” she said.
According to WTSP, cougar cubs remain with their mothers for 18-36 months—until they learn to hunt and feed themselves. But Penhallegon said this cub was underweight and it was believed to be unable survive in the wild on its own.
“This was a cat that had not learned to hunt yet. It had no way to take care of itself or feed itself,” said Penhallegon. “When its mom died, that would’ve been a death sentence for this cat unless it found itself a rehabilitation center it could check itself into!”
Penhallegon cared for the cub for two weeks, feeding it and nursing it back to health until it was ready to depart for a more suitable environment. It’s illegal to return a captive cougar to the wild in Washington, so the cub was transported to a zoo in Waco, Texas where it will hopefully be able to live a happy life.