Revamped mountain lion exhibit opens at Maine Wildlife Park
The last mountain lion in Maine was shot in 1938 near the Canadian border, however throughout the years, people in Maine have called in multiple sightings of the large wildcats. Although it is illegal to own wild animals in Maine, there are most likely people there who do since it is so easy to purchase them online. Dozens or maybe even hundreds probably do and the thought is that the sightings of mountain lions throughout the years have been released pets that became too hard to handle.
But now residents and visitors to Maine have a safe place to see the large beautiful wild cats. Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine now has a new, state-of-the-art mountain lion exhibit that recently opened on Friday, May 4, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The exhibit is a spacious wood-and-wire enclosure with a sheltered, glass corridor for viewing along one side. It is the parks most expensive exhibit yet, costing more than $100,000 which included hundreds of hours of volunteer work. At the beginning of May, the park’s two cougars moved into their new home. Their enclosure is 3,500 square feet and is the largest exhibit of its kind in New England.
The rest of the park is home to more than 30 native Maine animal species. All of the captive animals are “nonreleasable,” meaning they cannot survive in the wild because of a defect, an injury or, most commonly, a dependence on humans. Many of the animals are zoo surplus animals or rescued from homes where they were illegally owned as pets.
The park is maintained by close to 150 volunteers that contribute about 40 percent of the labor at the park. Some of the volunteers, park staff and prisoners from the Windham Correctional Center plus MDIFW engineering all contributed time and labor to the new exhibit.
The plan for the future when the current mountain lions pass away is to add surplus zoo animals such as younger lions of the same sex. The two current lions are elderly, the female being 12-14 years old, and the male is 19 years old. The exhibit is dedicated to Connie Kippax, a former wildlife park volunteer whose favorite animal was the mountain lion. She spent thousands of hours leading tours and teaching about the park’s wildlife. She would be very pleased with the new exhibit which is successfully bringing both the mountain lions and people together.
VIDEO A female mountain lion at the Maine Wildlife Park