Two impossibly cute brothers are stepping into a longstanding University of Houston tradition.
Shasta VII and Louie, the rescued cougar cubs who now live at the Houston Zoo, are currently "guarding" two UH school rings. On December 1, the 11-week-old brothers officially became UH mascots by protecting the rings int their enclosure.
To keep the young little ones engaged, keepers hid meatballs amongst the hay and climbing logs near the ring boxes as the duo sniffed and examined.
UH students can view all the 2022 school rings on Friday, December 9, where the jewelry will be placed in UH-themed boxes and on display in the empty cougar habitat. Students and guests are encouraged to snap photos in front of the habitat and view the rings; current students enjoy free daytime general Zoo admission (with a valid ID) but must reserve a ticket ahead of time online before visits.
As CultureMap previously reported, Shasta and Louie were found alone in Washington state and moved to the Houston Zoo in early November. The Zoo was contacted by the Washington State Fish & Wildlife Services when a rancher found two orphaned male cubs on his property. At an estimated four weeks old when found in late October, it was unlikely the cubs would have survived on their own. Within days, the duo flew to the Lone Star State and are settling into life at the Houston Zoo.
Shasta VII (left) and his brother Louie are adapting to their new home. Photo by Eric Berg
By all accounts, the brothers are growing and thriving in their new home; Shasta VII has emerged as the big brother/alpha leader of the two and often sleeps or rests with a paw over Louie, zoo staffers note.
For UH and zoo fans and supporters, the furry guys come as the zoo mourns the loss of both of its cougars, Shasta VI and Haley, this year. Now, the arrival of the brothers means a chance to ring in a new era for UH and the zoo.
Dearly departed mascot Shasta VI guarded UH rings at the zoo. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo