The Secret, Social Lives Of Mountain Lions Mountain lions are known to be scary lone hunters, but a biologist aims to prove us wrong with thousands of videos showing the big cats in their natural habitat.
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The Secret, Social Lives Of Mountain Lions

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The Secret, Social Lives Of Mountain Lions

The Secret, Social Lives Of Mountain Lions

The Secret, Social Lives Of Mountain Lions

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/472418674/472577746" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A lone hunter stealthily stalking its prey; a shrill cry in the night.

Mountain lions may conjure up terrifying images in our minds, but researchers show that our fears might be based on mythology rather than scientific observation.

Mark Elbroch, a wildlife biologist with the Panthera Puma Program, has been studying these big cats for 15 years — and the 100,000 videos he collected of mountain lions in their natural habitat reveal a whole secret world.

Mark Elbroch uses highly sensitive cameras to observe mountain lions in their natural habitat. Here, a mountain lion sniffs the camera.

Panthera Puma Project YouTube

His highly sensitive cameras allow him to see inside the den of a mountain lion and observe all the interactions between mother lions and their kittens.

There's the little chirp the kitten makes when it greets its mother, and the louder purr the mother makes when she calls to its kittens.

Here are two mythbusting facts Elbroch shared about these big cats:

Fact No. 1: Far from being lone hunters of our nightmares, mountain lions are very social animals and they rarely hurt each other.

Many biologists think that the infamous mountain lion scream is the sound of an angry, hungry male lion ready to attack. But it is actually a female in heat.

Panthera Puma Project YouTube

"You've got these huge male sons of mothers that have already outgrown their mothers and the mothers are just rolling with them and licking them," Elbroch says. "They sleep in these huge cuddle puddles, as interns like to call them."

Fact No. 2: The infamous mountain lion scream? That's actually a female in heat.

It is not, as many wildlife biologists have thought it to be, the sound of an angry, hungry male about to attack.

Elbroch hopes that when managing mountain lions in the future, wildlife agencies can just focus on removing individual problem cats — with the help of his motion-triggered remote cameras — instead of relying on open hunting seasons.