Asheboro, NC — Three adorable cougar kittens now call the North Carolina Zoo home. The kittens arrived late Monday night, after pilots with LightHawk volunteered and donated their resources to transport the animals from Oregon to North Carolina.

“We couldn’t have gotten the kittens here at this age without LightHawk. They would have had to stay at the Oregon Zoo several more months before arriving here. By doing it this way, it also allowed us to have someone with the kittens during the entire trip to make sure their needs were met,” Said Ken Reininger, general curator at the N.C. Zoo.

LightHawk is a volunteer based environmental aviation group which provides free flights to help protect land, water and wildlife.

Initially, the kittens were supposed to arrive in Greensboro, North Carolina. But due to bad weather, the pilot diverted the flight to Charlotte. Zoo keepers from the N.C. Zoo went to Charlotte and brought the cougars back to the zoo.

The kittens are around two months old. They became orphans after a hunter killed their mother in Oregon back in January.  They were then taken to the Oregon Zoo where zoo keepers helped wean the animals.

Now that the kittens are at N.C. Zoo, they are under a 30 day quarantine which is mandatory for all new animals. Once the animals are out of quarantine, zoo visitors will be able to see them in the cougar exhibit in the zoo’s Cypress Swamp complex.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.