Bogota, Aug 26 (EFE).- A cougar that was seized last May by Colombian authorities from a house in Bogota, where it was being held in very unhealthy conditions, is recovering and it is hoped that it will soon be able to be released back to its natural habitat, the capital City Hall reported Thursday.
“We’re very happy and hopeful about the process of recovery of the female cougar that we recovered from a family in May,” Bogota Environment Secretary Carolina Urrutia said.
The animal was recovered on May 26 from a private home in northern Bogota and transferred to the Wildlife Attention and Recovery Center in the Colombian capital to begin the process of rehabilitation needed to restore it to health.
According to the Environment Secretariat, the cougar is a “prejuvenile” individual and, after being examined by veterinarians, was found to be suffering from paraparesis, weakness in the hips and legs, along with muscle atrophy. In addition, the animal was suffering from 8 percent dehydration and weighed just 7.1 kilograms (15.6 pounds).
“She’s been receiving the necessary attention from technical personnel with the Environment Secretariat for several months to treat the lesions she has on her hip and hind paws,” Urrutia said.
Upon arriving at the attention center, the cougar had difficulties in eating food on her own and so she was initially provided with assistance to eat.
Also, more medical exams were performed on the animal that definitively ruled out that she suffered from endoparasites, leukemia or feline viral immunodeficiency, although X-rays showed that she did have possible metabolic bone disease.
In that regard, the cougar received physical therapy for three months, a regimen that has enabled her to recover gradually to the point where she can move around on her own.
The animal’s good recovery has enabled her to groom herself and pounce on potential prey, along with running, climbing and hunting.
Bogota authorities now are intending to transport the animal to a spot with conditions similar to those of her natural habitat to continue with her rehabilitation.
“The animal has recovered its mobility and spirit, and we’re seeing that soon it will be possible to transport her to another center so that she can adapt to its ecosystem. Cougars normally spent two years with their mothers. We received her at a very young age and she has to complete that period of dependence before there can be any release,” Urrutia said.
She added that authorities hope that this process “will continue and she can approach the release point as quickly as possible,” although that could take two years, since it is necessary for the animal to recover its wild instinct before it can be safely returned to its natural habitat.