Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You A Cougar Person?

We'd like to take a moment to say a quiet prayer for all the santuaries and zoos, like our friends at Popcorn Park located in Forked River, New Jersey and Mr. Kibo and Shira's parents, Connie & Joe, who are from Virginia, that they all make it through the storm, safe and untouched by the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.  Just another reminder that while we do not have the power to stop the storm, we can do everything we can to survive through one.  For some great tips on how to prepare for various natural disasters, please click HERE.

Speaking of unprepared...we are still processing the pictures from the Fall Festival and Pumpkin Bash.  It looks like the story will be delayed a little bit longer.  But thankfully, da-da-da-da...Janis came to our rescue with a great story on cougars and their mytho-role in history!

So without further ado, may we present the second installment of the Cat-o-tonic history lessons as presented by Janis Danner!

Freddy, Freddy, Freedy...
...the cougar!
Chances are you probably already know that the cougar is the second largest New World cat, after the jaguar. It is in the family Felidae, and actually is closer in genetic make up to the domestic house cat than the lion. Its range is from the tip of North America (Northern Yukon) to the tip of South America (Southern Andes) and many states in between.

Pop Quiz!  Do you know how many cougars currently are residents of In-Sync? Can you name them all? Do you know who the oldest cat at In-Sync is?  If you can answer these questions without even thinking about it (like VickyKeahey can), then you really know your cougars at In-Sync Exotics!

If you read my last blog about the jaguar, then you know that the jaguar had a very rich mythical life in the culture of the major groups of indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. Innumerable artifacts such as friezes, murals, pottery, myths etc. attest to the importance of the big cat. The major groups of Maya, Olmec and Aztec gave the jaguar the status of deity.

Surprisingly, this is not the case with the mountain lion in North America [boo]. Contrary to what is sentimentally reported in the media, the numerous tribes of indigenous peoples here did not have an overall unified reverence for this big cat, but rather it played a variety of roles in the different tribes. To those who had a more romantic mindset, the cougar was the ghost cat, or the spirit of the mountains. But to the Apache and Walapai of Arizona, the wail of the cougar was a harbinger of death. After hearing In-Sync Exotics’ own Cerella scream, it’s pretty easy to understand why!  Have you forgotten Cerella's scream?  Click HERE to hear the mighty scream of the cougar (Note:  no cougar was harmed in the taping of Cerella's scream!)

Cherokee isn't "wicked!"  She's just
misunderstood!  Love that face!!
Some tribes associated the cougar with witchcraft. Seminoles and Shawnees said it was powerful hunting medicine and the Kiowa made arrow quivers from mountain lion skins to impart strength in battle. The Algonquins and Ojibwas believed that the cougar lived in the underworld and was wicked. The Caddo peoples that inhabited the north central and eastern area of Texas had more myths and stories about the coyote than about mountain lions! Seems there were as many different roles as there were tribes.

Animal Totem Lore
According to animal totem lore, the cougar contains the energy of leadership and is graceful, balances intention, strength, and responsibility. If we listen to the cougar we learn to become the leader that people follow by choice, not by force. A cougar has the wisdom to lead through love, not through fear. Those who have cougar energy are people that are natural leaders. If no one else is leading, a cougar personality will naturally take over. Others are always safe when cougars are in charge.
The cougar is associated with leadership and can teach us about decisiveness in the use of personal power. When a cougar attacks it does not hesitate and when threatened it goes for the most vulnerable place. Like many leaders a cougar does not often show vulnerability. 
True leadership through gentle assertiveness is what cougar teaches those with this totem. Cougar people are often very sure of themselves and do not take any unnecessary steps or exert any extra energy beyond what is required of them to achieve their goals. Most cougars learn by trial and error, which strengthens them and hones their skills.
In life, cougar people may find that others will not like these assertions. Cougar people mustn’t allow others to keep them stationary—cougar people stretch their muscles and show their capabilities. Those with the cougar medicine are often attacked by others, especially by those who have grown comfortable with the status quo and do not wish to see those who have this totem grow. Even still, they may never admit when a cougar person does grow.
A cougar will leap at opportunities. Those with cougar medicine take control of their life and circumstances most effectively.
Animal Totem Lore exert obtained from:  http://www.cougarfund.org/naturalhistory/names/

Ancient Artifacts

Not a lot of artifacts remain with mountain lion images except in the Southwestern more arid regions. To tribes in this region, the Cherokee, Zuni, Anasazi, and Hopi, the mountain lion was a sacred animal. From these areas there are numerous artifacts that include fetishes, petroglyphs and even life size stone crouching mountain lion effigies at Bandalier National Monument.  

Lassiter on the move!

Spike?  Is that you?

Ever wonder where the mountain lion got its name?  "One folktale tells the story of Native Americans who would bring pelts to trade in what is now New York City. When the Europeans and white settlers would question why all only skins of females (given the lack of manes) were brought for trade, the Native Americans explained that the males lived far away in the mountains, playing a joke of sorts on the naive newcomers—this is why cougars, who are not specific to mountain regions at all, came to be known as “mountain lions”."
Pop Quiz:  Cougars are known by many names.  Can you name them all?  The answer is at the end of this blog posting!
With little physical archeological evidence, we turn to myths and stories to try to get some understanding of man’s relationship with the cougar. Again, these stories are varied, and include creation tales, cooperation stories between coyote and mountain lion and even rabbit. You can listen to a great 14-minute  Blackfoot tale on how the “Old Man” shaped and tamed the mountain lion to look like he does today…long and thin with ash tinged fur... by clicking HERE!  
Maybe cougars were not revered as gods everywhere, but these stories confirm that they certainly were respected and in many places cherished by the indigenous peoples of North America. This quote by Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation sums up a unifying thought:
 “The white man looks out at the natural world, at the animals and the plants, and he sees resources. 
The Indian looks out at the animals and plants, and he sees relatives.” 
We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting! Be sure to check back tomorrow for more fun and informative information about our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics!

Thought we might forget to post the answer to the second pop quiz?  Here it is!  Puma concolor happens to be the Latin name for the cat of many names: Cougar. Catamount. Painter. Panther. Ghost Cat. Puma. Shadow Cat. Oh, and Mountain Lion, of course! 

So, are you a cougar person?

Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you! 


1 comment:

  1. So who said my Spike looks like that petroglyph? Spike is a lot better looking and a purrfect gentleman. Ok, at least he looks much better than the petroglyph. JPC