Meet Dolly ... below is the complete story of Dolly's past, her rescue, and her arrival at Popcorn Park
Dolly at Popcorn Park, beginning to adjust to her new surroundings
18 years ago, a mother mountain lion was shot and killed in Colorado. Her cubs were taken and sold in the pet trade, a horrible circumstance that happens all too often. One particular cub was bought by a woman who thought she would make a great pet. One year later, the woman moved to Maine with a cub she named Dolly, a cub who quickly outgrew the woman’s ability to care for her. When Maine authorities found out about Dolly, they confiscated the illegally kept cougar and handed her over to Walt Libby, who ran a small roadside zoo in Lincoln, Maine. Here she was kept in a basement like environment with no windows, and was never allowed to go outside.
When Maine Fish and Wildlife Division started enforcing regulations on these horrific, rundown roadside zoos, Libby decided that it wasn’t worth upgrading Dolly’s living quarters and she was sent to the Howell Rehab Center in Amity Maine. When Dolly arrived there, just being outside and in the sun frightened her as she never really had the opportunity to experience it before. At 12 years old, she finally began to enjoy the outdoors. The Howell center is located in the extreme north of Maine where winters are bitterly cold. Because of the conditions she endured earlier on in her life, Dolly suffers from arthritis and as a result this northern climate became very painful and debilitating to her.
Popcorn Park arrives in Maine to bring Dolly back to New Jersey.
At the Howell Center she needed to walk up 2 platforms to get to the ramp that would take her to her area outside. In November of 2012, with her age and along with some other issues, it became harder to do that and she could not use the outside enclosure. The keepers did the best they could for her. They provided her with her favorite beef and poultry cuts and hid glucosamine and other joint supplements in her diet hoping they would help, and under the circumstances kept her den very clean. But they knew someplace had to be found to better care for her needs as she aged.
Popcorn Park received a call in late January from Derek Small of The W.I.L.D. Center in New Hampshire to see if we would be interested in helping Dolly. He had been in contact with Richard Hoppe from Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Division, they needed help finding a sanctuary where she would have better specialized vet care and a climate controlled inside den area. We made a den ready to accommodate her and started to make plans to pick Dolly up. In early February we received a very sad update. Upon a veterinary exam, it was determined that she was not well enough to sedate let alone travel. In fact, the attending veterinarian said she was so weak that she recommended that Dolly be humanely euthanized as soon as it was possible.
Dolly at the Howell Center, sedated, and getting a health check-up from Dr.Paluch and Dr. Bergmann before her trip back
A week later Derek called. He had heard that while trying to sedate Dolly for euthanasia the veterinarian had a difficult time. She was too agile and strong enough to avoid being injected with a pole syringe so they thought for a second and said “This girl isn’t ready to go. She’s telling us she still has more time left.” Since they couldn’t sedate her, they agreed that if she was strong enough to avoid them, she was strong enough to attempt a trip to Popcorn Park.
Hearing about Dolly’s will to live, we again started to make plans. Two weekends of snow storms delayed our "Help Dolly" mission, but finally on March 8, Drs. Paluch, Bergmann and myself left for the 11 hour trip to Amity, Maine. We arrived at the Howell Center where Dolly was kept at 9:30 the next day. We came prepared with several different means of getting her into a travel crate with or without sedation. We met Dolly and after seeing her enclosure, we decided a blow pipe and dart would be the best option for her.
Still sedated, Dolly is now in her traveling crate, and ready to come to her new home.
We could see her through her den door. She sat no more than three feet from us acting very bold and telling us where she stood on this whole moving matter. We used a small tree branch and stuck it through an opening and while swatting at it she showed us her flank, our vet had his shot. 10 minutes later, Dolly was safely asleep; our veterinarians began a health exam and drew blood for lab tests. We were there for about an hour or so, Dolly was now in her travel crate and was safely waking up as we started on our way back home.
Dolly's first day at Popcorn Park. She begins to explore her compound.
Dolly has some arthritis and vision problems. Our vets are monitoring her closely. She has had a visual exam by a neurologist from NorthStar Vets already and we are making plans for a complete exam with an optomologist, the neurologist and our veterinarian staff to see how to proceed with any health issues.
Dolly with one of her new toys, a red boomer ball.
She has settled in and has become very comfortable in her den and with her routine, and now even greets us with a loud meow and purrs while she pushes her head on the chain link gate hoping to get some attention (which of course she does).
Dolly cautiously checks out Nyla the lioness on the other side of her compound.
She loves basking in the sunshine, exploring her outdoor area, playing with her toys and stalking her neighbor, Nyla the lioness in the adjoining compound. Dolly's had a rough life and is older but for however long Dolly has left, she will live in comfort and have quality care. You can help and sponsor Dolly here.
Dolly is having a great time playing with all her toys.