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Katz the zoo cougar gets new home in Pahrump

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Katz the zoo cougar gets new home in Pahrump

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Oct 4, 2013

Pahrump, NV (KTNV) -- It's been two weeks since the Las Vegas Zoo shut down for good.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been tracking the animals as they get settled into new homes.

Earlier this week, she helped see Terry, the chimpanzee, off to a Florida sanctuary.

Now, she's got an exclusive look at the cougar's new digs, which are much closer to home.

When you get to this place far off the beaten path in Pahrump, you're greeted in a unique way.

"Oh my goodness!" said Chief Investigator Darcy Spears as a huge wolf/dog jumped up to put his paws on her shoulder.

Siri, who's mostly wolf, is their ambassador.

As for the cats, they come in all shapes and sizes. 

There's Isis, the Ocelot who's menacing mewl is just her way of saying hello. 

There's a big, orange, female tiger named Pebbles and even bigger male white tigers named Elvis and Frosty.

The animals here are king--they do have a lion--and queen.  And there's a beautiful Golden Tabby tiger named Princess.

"We're hands on with our animals so they are leash-trained," says Scott Shoemaker, founder of Rexano, which stands for Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership.

Shoemaker and Rexano Co-Founder Zuzana Kukol take care of the exotic crew.

"I've been at it 10 years, she's been at it most of her life."

The animals are their pets and caring for them is their life.

"It's a lifestyle," says Zuzana.  "Having these animals is a lifestyle.  It's not just a hobby you can have on the side."

Katz, the cougar who came from the Las Vegas Zoo, will live in Pahrump at the couple's home.

Katz is about eight years old, so this will be his forever home for the next five to ten years.

Darcy: When you heard that the zoo was closing, what did you think?  What did you do?
Scott: I wondered why?  And we haven't really gotten a good explanation of why he was closing.  We thought it was strange that no animal cruelty charges were brought against him or any citations by Animal Control, it was just his caretakers left, the next thing you know he's closing.

Zuzana thought a scaled down version of the zoo might have been able to stay open under different leadership.

"If they just had fewer animals in bigger cages it could still be saved and Las Vegas could still have a zoo with the right person."

The zookeeping staff quit after they say Zoo Director Pat Dingle wouldn't allow them to properly care for or feed the animals.

Scott and Zuzana had Katz examined by their vet.

"He has nothing that's immediate, that's chronic right now," Scott says.  "He has some scratches on his nose, but that's from the transport."

We got a glimpse of them taking Katz out of the zoo last week.

"When we got him here the first night he ate a lot and he's tapered off since then, so if he was hungry it wasn't for very long," says Scott.

Here in Pahrump, he has more space, more shade, more vegetation, and they say he's even gotten comfortable enough to play.

"He's taken a shine to this hanging rope here and batting the balls around," says Scott, "and now he's trying to hide the food dishes."

He'll also have an insulated house in his enclosure, as well as a misting system.

Katz will live out here as one of 12 exotic cats. 

Shoemaker and Kukol hope one day that he will become friends with Cougie, their resident female, so that he can have a life-long pal.

Many viewers are asking whether any animals are left at the zoo.

We're told the wallabies, emu, peacocks and guinea fowl are still there.

All have been placed and should be moved out in the next few days.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.