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Mountain lion cub has big paws to fill

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Mountain lion cub has big paws to fill

By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED May 20, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - He's showing his face for the first time. It's the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's newest addition: A 5-month-old mountain lion cub.

Dozens of people gathered around for a peek, including Yolanda Pineda, who has visited the cat exhibit for years. 

"I adore them," she said. "I call to them in that shrill voice and usually they'll come out."

But usually, it's two veteran mountain lions that have been ambassadors for the museum since before the millenium. 

After years of having their lives on display, it was time to retire in Tucson. 

"Like all of us, they're getting older; getting a little bit arthritic," said museum curator Shawnee Riplog-Peterson. "We really wanted to give them a nice retirement."

So the two lions passed the torch on to a much younger cub. The new celebrity tested his footing in the spotlight Monday morning in front of crowds and cameras. 

It wasn't long before he quickly retreated back to his cave. It's a lot for this cub to take in.

Just two months ago, he was discovered malnourished outside a California home. Under the care of Game & Fish and the museum, he's now thriving. 

"This 15-pound mountain lion quickly turned into a 40-pound mountain lion doing well, playing well and getting a lot of enrichment," Riplog-Peterson said. 

Now, all he needs is a name. The musuem is asking the public to participate in their naming contest. You can submit your suggestions here. The winning name will be announced July 6. 

Simone Del Rosario

Simone Del Rosario

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Simone is the KGUN 9 On Your Side resident cowgirl. She has spent most of her life on the back of a horse, and spent all of her high school and college years traveling from rodeo to rodeo with her horses and her dog, Roper.