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255. Woman Reunites With Feline Friend

254. Dog Saves Girl's Life
256. Koala in Fire

Woman reunites with feline friend

Mountain lion found in Colorado sanctuary

February 3, 2009

D. Dion

Three and a half years ago, Norwood resident Ruthie McCain fell in love. She was working at the Rocky Mountain Ark, a wildlife refuge and rehabilitation facility on Wilson Mesa, where she took care of a baby mountain lion named Mojo.

Norwood cat-lover Ruthie McCain with the mountain lion she helped raise in 2005. McCain was reunited with the lion this month. [Courtesy photo] click on thumbnail to enlarge


McCain formed a special bond with the cat, feeding him chicken necks and letting him crawl on her lap and suckle on her fingers like an infant. She took care of him and the other animals at the refuge for 11 months, but then the facility closed and the animals were sent to various homes or sanctuaries. McCain searched in vain for the cougar she had come to think of as her baby, but could not track him down.

But this January, something special happened: McCain got her Mojo back.

McCain's friend Becky Bailey was searching online and found a wild cat sanctuary in which she could donate in McCain's name as a holiday gift. She stumbled on the web site for Serenity Springs, in Calhan, Colo. It was a place where McCain had looked for Mojo years ago, but back then there was no way to distinguish between the 120 feline residents at the facility. Now, however, the web site was revamped with a small dossier for each animal, and Bailey noticed that one of the mountain lions there was named "Mojo." McCain was thrilled at the discovery.

"I freaked," says McCain. She went online to look, and as the cougar's photo made its slow, dial-up-internet appearance on her computer screen, she knew it was Mojo. "As soon as I saw the tips of his ears I knew it was him."

McCain verified with the Serenity Springs staff that it was indeed the cat she had helped raise, and she immediately went to visit him.

When she approached his cage, he seemed to recognize her, she says. He came up to the fence and sniffed her hair and breath, and then rubbed up against the fence and purred affectionately, and she could feel the ground rumbling beneath her feet.

"I cried a little," says McCain. "Which is good, because I expected to bawl."

McCain may not be able to be on the same side of the fence anymore as her feline friend -- Mojo weighs 230 pounds now, and if he was even to hurt her accidentally while playing, his caretakers would have to euthanize him -- but she was able to "adopt" him. The Serenity Springs Wildlife Center has an adopt-a-pet program where people can contribute to the care of the animals.

McCain now sends $50 each month to foster Mojo, and will visit him every two months.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened," says McCain. "I still can't believe it."

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