It is traditionally accepted that mountain lions are solitary predators and their diet can embrace a wide range of victims – from insects to large animals. When visiting Orange Country Zoo, I had an opportunity to watch two mountain lions residing in one cage. Despite their isolated behavior, the animals recognized the presence of each other and they gladly split the territory. These were the male and female representatives of one species.
The behavior of animals was smooth and even; one lion was rambling from one part of the cage to another. Another lion also looked calm and passive, paying no attention to the zoo visitors. Both animals seemed to be uninterested in the surrounding viewers because they had previously been fed by the zoo supervisors. I also noticed that one of the lions expected to receive attention from another animal, but the latter ignored it.
While looking at the behavior of mountain lions, it is purposeful to suggest that animals have chosen a waiting attitude as soon as see the victim and attack.
Rationale for Hypothesis
The waiting attitude is often characterized by aimless walking of the animal from part of the cage to another. Another cougar also imitates this pattern. Mountain lions have a high level of endurance and patience and, therefore, by walking passively, they can disorient the victim.
Passive behavior and lack of attention to movements are explained by several reasons. In this respect, Beier et al. (1995) focus on “…lack of nocturnal movements at the carcass site and report distances between cashe sites, daybeds of mountain lions, and kill sites” (1067). Therefore, cougars have certain hours during which they should receive meat; otherwise, they will start developing another type of behavior. The studies by Beier et al. (1995) do not provide an explicit description of behavior, but Fitzhugh approaches these issues more accurately. Specifically, the researcher refers to this behavior as that exposing indifference or curiosity.
The first phase is relevant when “lion more than 100 yards away, various positions movements, attention directed away from people” (Fitzhugh, n. d., p. 1). This description is identified with the hypothesis presented above. Hence, the mountain lion in the cage was also confined to various positions, as if demonstrating negligent and indifferent attitude to surrounding people. During such behavioral patterns, visitors should not make rapid movements and keep together in groups.
Even though cougars are considered solitary predators, Pierce et al. (2000) insist that the social organization of this species is still presented through the territorial system and the need for reproduction. In the cage, mountain lions acknowledge the presence of each other on the defined territory. Their actions resemble cooperation in terms of hunting, mating, and feeding. Nevertheless, the competition for food may still take place.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that mountain lions or cougars are solitary predators that are distinguished by a narrow set of behavior. Their social behavior is confined to such aspects as hunting, mating, and feeding. While contemplating the behavior of one of the cougars, it is possible to state that the animal has selected a waiting attitude before initiating the attack by demonstrating indifference toward the surrounding visitors. Therefore, the research approves the hypothesis about the fact that this behavior is typical of the species under analysis.
Beier, P. Choate, D. and Barrett, R. H. (1995). Movement Patterns of Mountain Lions during Different Behaviors. Journal of Mammalogy, 76(4), 1056-1070.
Fitzhugh, E. L. (n. d.). Mountain Lion Behavior: Meaning, Risk, and Appropriate Response. Web.
Pierce, B. M., Bleich, V.C., & Bowyer, R. T. (2000). Social Organization of Mountain Lions: Does a Land-Tenure System Regulate Population Size? Ecology, 81(6), 1533-1543.