- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) - Three orphaned cougars who have lived at the North Carolina Zoo since last March are about to get a party.

Zoo keepers have planned a party for Dec. 22 for Heath, Olive and Willow.

The cougars were rescued after a hunter in Oregon killed their mother. Once the hunter realized the mother had kittens, they were taken to the Oregon Zoo, where they were weaned.

Zoo keepers believe if the kittens had not been rescued they would have starved or been eaten by a predator.

Due to their growth and the size of the zoo’s cougar habitat, Willow was transported to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Manitowoc, Wis., in October. Heath and Olive will celebrate their big day by enjoying and ripping up presents and a large paper mache cake.

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