Rolling Hills Zoo is welcoming a new member to their animal family. Bexookee, pronounced Bay-u-key or Bex for short, is the new cat in town making its home at the zoo. Bexookee is an Arapahoe Indian name for mountain lion or cougar.
According to the zoo, arriving on October 19th from Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Bex is a 12 year old female cougar (or otherwise known as a puma) who was recommended for transfer to Rolling Hills Zoo by the Species Survival Program (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Not only was Rolling Hills Zoo looking for a companion for their male cougar, Charlie Bear, but Lincoln Park Zoo also needed to find a new home for Bex as they prepare for renovations to the Kovler Lion House.
Born in the wild of Wyoming, Bex was orphaned at an early age and rescued by the Wyoming Fish & Game Department. With an approximate birth date of October 1, 2006, the best guess is that she was about 2 months old when she arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Brenda Gunder, RHZ Curator, Vickie Musselman, RHZ Curator Registrar, and Siarra Dinkel, Carnivore Keeper, made the trip to Chicago this past week to transport the cougar to Salina. Once her mandatory quarantine has been completed, the process of introducing her to her new exhibit and to Charlie Bear will begin. The required 30-day quarantine, a standard protocol for any animal coming into an AZA accredited zoo, not only insures the health of the incoming animal, but also protects the health of the animals who reside at the Zoo.
Bex enjoys being up high, so she is sure to enjoy the new platform recently built in the cougar exhibit. She is very smart and trains well when she is ready. While not a morning cat (but what cat is?), Bex likes to be outdoors and her favorite foods are capelin and rabbits. She also loves anything small and round, even lettuce heads and cantaloupe, which she will eat whole if given the chance.
Also 12 years old, the zoo’s male cougar, Charlie Bear, has been at Rolling Hills Zoo for the past ten years and weighs in just over 160 lbs., significantly larger than Bex, who weighs in at 101 lbs., the average size of a female cougar.
“Charlie Bear has been with other females in the past and has gotten along well with them,” commented Brenda Gundar, RHZ Curator. “Cougars are a favorite big cat for our visitors as well as staff, and we are happy we are able to assist Lincoln Park Zoo and the Puma SSP with this placement.”