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Cougar (Mountain Lion)

Part of Hall of North American Mammals.


Summer, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park offers ideal habitat for cougars: shade to escape the heat, rugged terrain in which to ambush prey and nooks to eat carcasses in private. Typically solitary, males and females travel together only during the few days out of the year when they are mating.

These agile cats actually lived across the United States until European settlers encroached. By the early 1900s, nearly all cougars east of the Rocky Mountains had been exterminated, like most other large predators in North America. Cougars are now making a comeback in some areas—even developed ones, where the risk of conflict with humans is real.

Grand Canyon
View from Point Sublime, North Rim

The scale of Arizona’s Grand Canyon—both in space and time—is almost inconceivably vast. At its deepest, the canyon’s rock walls plunge mo