Houston Zoo welcomes 2 cougar cubs, including new mascot, Shasta VII, for University of Houston

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Thursday, November 17, 2022
Orphaned cougar cub rescued from Washington is UH's new mascot
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Welcome to H-town, Shasta VII and Louie! The cougar cubs found a new home at the Houston Zoo after a rancher discovered them orphaned at just 4-weeks old.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Watch out, Houston! There's a new, tiny, baby cougar in town!

The University of Houston announced on Thursday that two cougar cubs have found a new home at the Houston Zoo, and one of them will be the seventh live mascot for the school.

The cubs come three months after the university mourned the death of Shasta VI from progressive spinal disease. Not long after, Shasta VI's companion, Haley, also passed from kidney illness. Both illnesses are common in older cats.

READ MORE: University of Houston mascot Shasta VI dies from progressive spinal disease, school says

Shortly after sending out the word that the Houston Zoo had space and expertise to care for cougars, two cubs were found alone in Washington state.

The Houston Zoo was contacted by Washington State Fish and Wildlife Services after a rancher found the two orphaned male cubs on his property.

The cubs, named Shasta VII and Louie, were an estimated 4 weeks old when they were found in October, making it unlikely that they would have survived on their own.

Within only a few days, they were on their way to Texas and now, the 8-week-old cubs are settling into their new life at the Houston Zoo.

The zoo will share updates on the boys as they continue to grow, and will invite the public to come see them once they are introduced to their new habitat.

"Shasta has shown himself to be the leader of the two by being protective of his smaller brother and being the calmer, more confident cub," the university said. "Shasta often sleeps or rests with a paw over Louie."

In the past, former Shastas played a pivotal role in cherished university traditions, including guarding the rings of the graduating classes, as well as the students who have recently received their class rings. All of the rings would be placed in a UH-themed box, which would spend the day in Shasta's habitat.

Throughout the years, UH and the zoo have partnered to celebrate special occasions, such as Shasta's birthday parties and live appearances via webcam at UH football games.