The zoo and the University of Houston made the announcement Thursday morning. Shasta VII and Louie will carry on the long-standing tradition in partnership with the UH Alumni Association and be ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild while “faithfully representing the cougar spirit of the University of Houston from their home at the Houston Zoo.”
The 8-week-old cubs will remain behind the scenes until they are comfortable with their caregivers, the zoo said.
The zoo said that not long after they sent out word that they had room and expertise to care for cougars, they were contacted by Washington State Fish & Wildlife Services. They told them that two male cubs were found alone in Washington state by a rancher on his property.
The cubs are estimated to be about 4 weeks old when they were found in late October. Wildlife officials said they were unlikely to survive on their own.
The cubs were then flown to the Houston Zoo and are settling into life there at their facility, the zoo said.
The zoo said they plan to share updates on the pair as they continue to grow and will invite the public to meet them after they are introduced to their new habitat.
“Shasta has shown himself to be the leader of the two by being protective of his smaller brother and being the calmer, more confident cub,” the zoo said in a release. “Shasta often sleeps or rests with a paw over Louie.”
UH students receive free admission to the zoo by reserving tickets online under our Discounts section. A current student ID is required when entering with the free ticket.
The zoo said goodbye to its former cougars, Shasta VI and Haley, earlier this year as the two elderly felines were euthanized several months apart for declining health.
Both cougars had spinal and kidney illnesses which are common in older cats, the zoo said.