Joseph and Tecumseh at the Cincinnati Zoo

Historically, the cougar (Puma concolor) ranged throughout the Americas. In North America, the cougar still roams the western half of the continent and a small population survives in southern Florida. As a predator, the cougar plays an important role in controlling and maintaining healthy prey populations, especially of white-tailed deer. In areas where the cougar has disappeared, such as the eastern United States, the deer population has exploded. Too many deer eat too many saplings and threaten the forest's ability to thrive.


  • Where to see them: Western North America, Florida, and Central and South America
  • Length: 3.4 to 6.4 ft
  • Weight: 79.4 to 227 lbs
  • Lifespan: Up to 17 yrs in the wild
  • Habitat: Desert, savannah, tropical rainforest, forest, scrubland, and mountain areas
  • Diet: Mammals ranging in size from mice to white-tailed deer
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