The gentle gaze of North America's most fearsome predator
The Story of "Power & Grace"
The North American cougar is the largest wild cat in the region, and the most dangerous as well. They silently stalk their prey and are capable of incredible feats of power and strength. Still, a deep look into their eyes and it is hard to see anything besides beauty and grace.
This photo was taken at a Wildlife rescue center called Wildlife Images in Grants Pass, Oregon. This particular ambassador of the facility could not be re-released because someone had attempted to keep him as a pet, realizing quickly that a cougar is not a house cat. Because he had lost his fear of humans, he would inevitably associate human settlements with food and would not last long before animal control would have to destroy him. Instead, he lives his life out with plenty of space and an emphasis on maintaining his wild instincts as much as possible at this ethically sound facility.
He also happens to be my favorite animal at the facility. Just look at that face!