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Thompson Park Zoo gets new cougar cub; contest for his name

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Thompson Park Zoo gets new cougar cub; contest for his name
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A few months ago, a baby mountain lion was found either alone or abandoned in Montana. The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park in Watertown, volunteered to take the cub in. It won't be long before it's ready to be introduced, but before that happens, the zoo wants your help in giving him a name. Our Brian Dwyer gives a first look at the cub and more on how you can help name him.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Not yet much different than your pet at home. This cougar cub, a mountain lion from Montana, has a fondness for blankets and toys.

At six-months-old, the zoo keepers have him in an employee’s only area, trying to learn more about his playful personality. The hope is once he gets used to the New York weather, he can be introduced to the public and the two other mountain lions the zoo already has.

"What we're going to do is take time and have what we refer to as a close approximation and let the young female and male get used to each other from a distance," Zoo Executive Director John Wright said. "Then they can see and smell each other and we slowly bring them together."

Wright says although mountain lions are native to New York, encroachment, population and other restrictions have basically made them non-existent or very hard to find. He says the new cub is basically a great way to educate people on preservation and will allow families to follow his life.

"People can grow and have these fond memories with their kids remembering when they saw the young cub come out and play and grow with people that are watching," Wright said.

The only problem now is that this little guy doesn't have a name. So over the course of the next month, the zoo is going to be hosting a contest. People can come in and drop off a suggestion or even mail one in.

"We'll compile all those suggestions and the staff and certain people will get together and we'll pick the top five names," Wright said. "The top five names will go on our Facebook and people can vote from there."

The zoo is asking for a dollar donation for each entry submitted. They hope to have a winning name sometime in February, about the time it gets introduced to the public.

If you cannot make it to the zoo, but want to offer a suggestion for the cub's name, you can mail it to The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, 1 Thompson Park, Watertown, New York 13601.

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