FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 16, 2009
Kevin Britz (970-247-7494) Center of Southwest Studies, Director
Julie Tapley-Booth (970-247-7456) Center of Southwest Studies, Event Coordinator
The Center of Southwest Studies and the Colorado Division of Wildlife with sponsorship by the Southern Ute Tribe, are planning a major exhibit entitled, Mountain Lion! The exhibit will open on August 22, 2009 and run through September 30, 2010 at the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
The exhibit was developed by the Center of Southwest Studies and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to address the pressing need for greater public awareness on the growing issue of human encounters with mountain lions. Over the last two decades, there has been a dramatic rise in cougar sightings and dangerous encounters on the urban fringes of numerous Western cities. In a few rare cases, there have been fatalities.
The goal of this exhibit is to create an understanding of the nature of these predators and their long, historic relation with people. Mountain Lion! examines the history of cougars starting from the Ice Age when they roamed the continent along with fierce cats like the giant North American Lion and Smilodon, popularly known as saber-tooth tigers. Another exhibit section will look at the hunting techniques, habits, and physical features of modern mountain lions that have allowed them to survive for thousands of years. Other exhibit sections illustrate the different perspectives of Native Americans and early European settlers toward cougars, how opinions toward the animal changed, and the ways they continue to be portrayed in fine art and popular culture. The last section teaches visitors how to read cougar behavior, recognize signs, and offer practical tips on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion. The exhibit will feature dioramas, fossil representations of extinct cougar relatives, hands-on learning experiences, and the work of leading wildlife photographers including Robert Winslow.
After its year-long run in Durango, the exhibit will travel to museums and nature centers throughout the greater Southwest including the states of Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The 2000+ square-foot exhibition is free and open to the public at the Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College. Photos are available on request.