When I was first introduced to the Desert Museum’s new Mountain Lion cub about 7 weeks ago, he was just getting acquainted with his new habitat that will be his home for many years to come. At that time he weighed about 50 pounds and carried himself well, but had no name.
To resolved the “no name” issue, those clever folks at the Desert Museum announced that there would be a naming contest with prizes. In the intervening weeks they received over 1400 entries from 34 states and 6 foreign counties. In a ceremony last Saturday, they announced that the winning entry was submitted by Tucson resident Darlene Baty. One of the criterion was that the winning name had to somehow relate to our beautiful Sonoran Desert. In other words, “Sasquatch” wasn’t likely to be the new cub’s name.
Now weighing 66 pounds and looking a lot more grown up, the healthy youngster has a name: Cruz. Yup, that’s right. Cruz. Spanish for “cross”, the universal symbol of Christianity.
The name refers to our Santa Cruz River or in English “Sacred Cross River”. Now he not only has a name, he has a religion. By the same reasoning, they could have just as easily named him “Pedro” after our other Southern Arizona river.
Other Top 5 names included Ousei (Yaqui for Mountain Lion), submitted by Luann Read of Tucson, Cereus George, submitted by Martha Lundgren of Tucson, J. Edgar Cougar, submitted by Jena McLaughlin of Tucson, and Tas* (Tohono O’Odham for “sun”), submitted by Rachel Muscat of Tucson.
“J. Edgar Cougar”. I like that one.
Nevertheless, “Cruz” enjoys swimming. According to Shawnee Riplog-Peterson, Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology. “His favorite toy is his red jolly ball and his favorite food is still goats milk.”
She also explained that he seems partial to small children. Well, of course. If you were a 66 pound mountain lion, wouldn’t a small humanoid be about the right size for a lunch?
The naming contest winner received a variety of prizes which included: a one year family membership to the Desert Museum, an engraved plaque with a mounted plaster cast of the cub’s paw, an annual membership and prize pack from the Mountain Lion Foundation and a gift certificate from eegee’s. All of the finalists received Mountain Lion stuffed animals as a thank you for their submissions.
Click HERE to view our 4 brief original Desert Museum videos.