FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Over the last two decades, there has been a dramatic rise in large cat sightings on the urban fringes of numerous western cities. The public continues to be fascinated with the grace and power of these magnificent creatures as communities grow, outdoor recreation becomes more popular, and as the public moves closer to mountain lion habitat. Mountain Lion!, on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff through Aug. 4, seeks to create an understanding of the nature of these predators and their long history of relations with humans.
Known by many names - mountain lion, cougar, puma, panther, ghost cat, and catamount, depending on the region - these cats are solitary hunters at the top of the food chain, who rely on their camouflage, superb eyesight, and speed to survive. Mountain lions often travel 25-30 miles a day in search of a meal, with the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
Today, cougars are among the largest meat-eating animals in North America. Like other predators, they play a critical role in the balance of nature and contribute to biological diversity and a healthy environment.
Mountain Lion! examines the history of these large cats, starting in the Ice Age, when they roamed this continent along with the giant North American Lion and Smilodon, popularly known as saber-tooth tigers.
Hunting techniques, habits, and physical features which have allowed them to survive for thousands of years are explored, along with differing cultural perspectives towards cougars, and changing opinions. This exhibit also delves into how to read cougar behavior and practical tips on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion in the wild.
Mountain Lion! was developed by the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., in partnership with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, to address the need for greater public awareness. The Museum of Northern Arizona is able to host the exhibit with support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, BBB Revenues from the city of Flagstaff and Flagstaff Cultural Partners.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of the great regional museums of our world. Surrounded by tremendous geological, biological, and cultural resources in one of Earth's most spectacular landscapes, with a long and illustrious history, MNA evokes the very spirit of the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon and Four Corners regions.
For further information, call (928) 774-5213 or go to musnaz.org. You can also find MNA on Facebook.com/musnaz or at http://twitter.com/MuseumofNAZ.