Stillwater News Press

Local News

February 9, 2013

Perkins couple loses female cougar to cancer

STILLWATER, Okla. — Leah and Bobby Aufill are saying goodbye to a dear friend of seven years — their cougar Elvis.

The 13-year-old female cougar died of pancreatic cancer last weekend. It was one of three cougars the Aufills care for at their Perkins home and big cat sanctuary. They also own a Canadian Lynx and a bobcat.

Leah Aufill said after learning the cat was gravely ill, they had only 24 hours before she died. Similar to humans, pancreatic cancer in big cats is often too late to treat once it is advanced enough to be diagnosed.

“Elvis had a lot of passion,” Leah Aufill said, adding that she would miss the cat’s loud, motoring purr.

Although they have a lot of sorrow and grief at losing their longtime pet, the Aufills plan to preserve Elvis’ body to use for education in the community and at area schools. Leah Aufill said there is a lot of fear and misunderstanding surrounding large predators like cougars.

“We would like the public to understand the importance and role of predators and how special they are,” Leah Aufill said.

The Aufills took Elvis into their sanctuary after her previous owner had nearly starved her to death and the state confiscated her. After being nursed back to health by a rehab facility in Shawnee, Elvis came to the Aufills.

The cougars live in a massive domed and double fenced habitat that dominates the Aufill’s backyard with catwalks, platforms and trees for leaping. Over time, Elvis became a mother figure to Zinnia and Simba — two other cougars the Aufill’s care for.

Leah Aufill said Zinnia has been making a lot of noise since Elvis’ death.

She said she fondly remembers how Elvis would jump and hug a tree inside the sanctuary to reach hidden treats.

“We know for seven years she got to eat really healthy, got lots of affection and had a great space,” Leah Aufill said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Stilly Studio
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case