Hey folks, I am so sorry we haven’t been posting. Due to financial issues we had to end our trip a little early and have been home getting back into the swing of finding a job, organizing film and information, and preparing for the next step. Bare with us as we move into this next phase! Thanks!
Sometimes the constant traveling and business gets to be tiring, but there is nothing like visiting a zoo like Henson Robinson Zoo to re-light that fire. We met up with Jacqueline Peeler, the curator of Henson Robinson Zoo, first thing in the morning yesterday and she introduced us to the zoo’s two resident mountain lions, Beau (male) and Soleil (female, said “so-lay”). These two young siblings were named after their rescuer Richard Beausoleil, who works out of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and has rescued countless mountain lions. Beausoleil spent all of memorial day holiday last year looking for their mother after they were found but unfortunately he was not able to locate her. The preferred situation would have been to locate her and return the cubs to her, but since she couldn’t be found, Beau and Soleil were sent to Henson Robinson Zoo where they have been since. They are less than 2 years old and so still have a lot of young energy and attitude. According to Jacqueline, Soleil rules the roost and lets her brother know that even though he may be larger, she is in charge!
One of the behaviors that we saw that is very typical of younger mountain lions, was stalking. Whether it was a goose, a leaf, or people, they would stalk and watch intently. It is was a good reminder that even though these two have spent such a small amount of their life in the wild, they are still very much wild animals. The zoo is working with them to learn basic training steps right now, like shifting on command and targeting. Jacqueline said that they are coming along nicely. Be sure to watch the video coming soon to learn more!
One of the things that struck Matt and I about Henson Robinson Zoo was how friendly and open the zoo and the staff were. The zoo itself was very comfortable, easy to walk around, and highly accessible. The staff were all very open, easy to talk to, and more than willing to share what they knew. It was such a wonderful experience! Thank you so much to everyone that took time out of their day to meet with us and talk to us about our project or anything else.
This next week Matthew and I are meeting up with our church for a missions trip in South Dakota where we spend time with and minister to an Indian Reservation. We will try our best to post a couple times through out the week on various mountain lion subjects, but bare with us while we are on the missions trip. We will be back to visiting zoos by first thing next week as we finish out our summer adventure!
The last couple days have been a blur of rain, zoo visit, driving, driving ….. and more driving. Yesterday we were in Minnesota and, despite the rain, Lake Superior Zoo fit us in. We had a fabulous time visiting the little zoo and if you are ever in the area of Duluth, Minnesota I definitely recommend them. They are doing an amazing job of coming back from a terrible flooding last year and are working hard to bring everything back.
Their cougar, Max, was by far one of the most friendly cats we have yet visited. He was originally owned by a family that really did try to do the best they could for him. When he got too big for their house they even built him an outdoor enclosure and implemented safety procedures like shifting (moving the animal from one sectioned off portion of a habitat, to the other, for safe cleaning and other procedures; so that you are never in the same area with the animal). When they had to give him up they asked Lake Superior Zoo to be his new home. He now enjoys an even more natural habitat and a lead keeper, Maicie Sykes, that obviously adores him. Maicie talked with us about the importance of not keeping wild animals as pets. One of the precautions that Max’s previous owners took was to de-claw him. This is often a very painful procedure for any animal and at times can lead to permanent damage to the paws. In Max’s case he seems to not be suffering any of these lingering after effects. Infact, with the exception of some extra skin left over from a weight loss program (that just makes him that much more endearing), Max is in amazing health with lots of energy and movement for being an old man at 13 years old!
Another thing that made Max stand out as a mountain lion was his unique “bark.” Rather than the typical chirp that most mountain lions will use to communicate with people they know, Max has a very special bark. Maicie says that she has never heard any other mountain lion make that noise. Be sure to check out the video (coming tomorrow) of Max and Maicie where you can learn more about him and hear his special vocalization.
After leaving the zoo yesterday we drove down into Wisconsin and spent the night. We decided to drive through Chicago and maybe even try to stop for a famous deep dish pizza! After so many days away from busy cities, Matt and I were a tad overwhelmed by the number people walking around and the traffic in downtown Chicago so we decided to wave goodbye to the windy city and head on out. We are now in Springfield, IL and tomorrow we are heading to the Henson Robinson Zoo. With an early appointment we hope to spend the afternoon updating the website and getting pictures and videos up from lake Superior and Henson Robinson Zoos.
Thanks for checking in!
Have you seen any pictures from this trip that you thought would be great hanging on your wall? Well now is your chance to get it! I have started a profile on www.fineartamerica.com where you can purchase my photography in whatever medium, with whatever frame, etc you like! Proceeds will go to fund the trip and cover the pre and post trip costs. Check out what’s for sale at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/megan-walters.html.
If there is a specific picture you know you want that you don’t see up there yet just let me know! I’ll see what I can do to make it available to you!
What a fabulous little zoo! Despite the intermittent rain, Chahinkapa Zoo was so welcoming and supportive of our campaign. Addy Paul, the lead keeper even came in on her day off to talk with us and show us around! She introduced us to CJ and Colga, their two resident mountain lions. This brother/sister pair were brought to Chahinkapa from Wyoming. While Colga, the female, spent most of the time giving us an icy stare from her perch (she was unhappy from the rain!), her brother was more than happy to come visit after offered some meat as a tempting treat! He then gave us quite a show playing with his crate and firehose. Addy told us that the toys used for enrichment are rotated through varying animal habitats so that toys are kept new and interesting with new smells. Where ever that crate had come from before, CJ sure liked it! To learn more be sure to check out the video highlight under the Zoo Highlight page.
We asked Addy where Colga got her name and we were told that it is the last portion of a longer native american word for mountain lion! I am going to have to look into what that word is and share it with you guys later!
A special thank you to Kathy Diekman, the director, for working things out on such short notice! Thank you to Addy too for coming in on your day off, we really enjoyed meeting you and getting a chance to film your lions and the rest of the zoo!
Also, we met a young gentleman in the Grand Tetons, Matthew, who we were supposed to email bear pictures to. It seems that we have misplaced that piece of paper, so, if you happen to read this, we need your email again! So sorry!
Left northern Montana today, saying our goodbyes to the kind gentleman Bill before heading south for Yellowstone. While waiting, crossing our fingers for, and praying about a certain email, we decided to drive through Yellowstone and see the beauty that it is. Megan has been through here before, but I believe this is my first time. Took some great footage of some Bison that were right at the edge of the road (a few a little too close for my comfort!) and then a bit of a wild Grizzly bear that was a VERY safe distance away making him little more than a brown smudge on my camera. I’ll check the footage later for usable pieces, but it was a very cool experience to have in person anyway. Drove past a few more bison on the way out and then through creepy dark tall trees after the sun went down before finding a non-full, moderately priced hotel that had internet. Still praying for that email, so join us!
Oh, and the sunset was gorgeous! Got some awesome footage of the ridge of trees in silhouette with the sun and clouds behind it. Will be releasing in the next day or two (depending on internet abilities) a video for the Glacier National Park and then hopefully one for Yellowstone as well! Cheerio!
I just wanted to let everyone know that I have retitled the “Folklore” page to be “In Their Words.” This allows me to include things such as poems, or quotes, or other things that other people have written about mountain lions. I just added a new poem I found today so please go check it out. I always put the referenced website below the writing as well so that you can go check out the author’s website, blog, etc.
Yesterday I discovered that my photo gallery was not working properly and had essentially deleted itself off the website. This was hugely disappointing and frustrating because there were so many pictures uploaded to the site and as far as I could tell they were all gone. After messaging the author of the plug-in and getting some direction from my dad, I set off this morning to delete the file and begin again. Lo and behold, when I re-installed the plug-in, all the pictures were safely there and properly in-bedded still! What a wonderful birthday present! Please enjoy the photos on the photo gallery page if you have not already done so. I am also in the process of uploading some new ones as well!
Matthew and I are headed to Idaho today where we hope to meet up with Boone Smith and pick his brain regarding mountain lions from a wildlife capture and research perspective. Cross fingers that we hear from him soon!
One of the questions that we constantly get asked is “Who is funding this project?” The answer is us and the people who generously donate to us. While this is one of my least favorite topics to discuss it unfortunately is one that must be. Matthew and I rely solely on donations from you for this trip. We have currently spent over $2,300 and our donation total is under $1,000. While the cost of this trip is something that I feel pales in comparison to the experience, connections, and impact that we are having, your support in terms of financial donations would certainly make the finance side of things less stressful and allow us to focus even more on the trip itself. Thank you so much for everything you do for us; whether it be words of encouragement, donation, prayer, helping spread the word, or anything else, we greatly appreciate it.
American Lion Campaign was featured in Billings, Montana on KULR8 News tonight! What an amazing opportunity to share what we are doing with Montana and getting the word out there! A very heartfelt and special thank you to Bill Scurry for your amazing connections that opened up this door, to Stella D. for pitching our campaign to the station and getting us the connection to Mac Hageman, and to Mac Hageman for picking up our story and sharing it with Billings, Montana! You guys are wonderful and we can’t thank you enough for believing in us and helping us spread the word of this campaign and petition!
Check out the story and video here!
You can sign the petition here!
What an amazing couple of days! We spent some fabulous time in Glacier National Park. We were hiking a trail today that was marked but obviously less-than-well-traveled and we are pretty sure we almost got chased by a bear! No worries though, we made lots of noise and kept moving. We did however see lots of deer tracks and, after confirming with the local wildlife and fisheries, we are pretty sure we even saw lynx tracks! Sadly we didn’t come across anything large enough to be mountain lion, but we were told they are indeed in the area and, in the western portion of the park, doing really well. One day I hope to see one in the wild, it would be a dream come true!
The exciting news for today though is that we heard from a reporter for KULR8 News in Billings, Montana and we have an interview this weekend! I don’t know a whole lot about the details of airing or how that all will work but will keep you posted as we know!