Two of the Wildcat Sanctuary’s newest guests have new names, thanks to students from Concord Elementary School in Edina.

The cougar kittens — dubbed Blaze and Aspen — arrived at the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minn., in early January. They were orphaned when their mother was shot after attacking a goat in Conconully, Wash.

Blaze is described as the larger and more dominant of the two, said Sanctuary Director Tammy Thies. She said his brother, Aspen, is quieter and more than willing to let his big brother, who outweighs him by 10 pounds, take charge.

Normally, the sanctuary’s cats are named through polls or contests, but Theis said the second-graders from Leslie Stacey’s class were invited to vote on names for the kittens because of their fundraising projects for the nonprofit rescue facility.

Blaze and Aspen will be raised with two other rescued cougar kittens — Snow and Storm — in a 20,000-square-foot enclosure with wooded areas and caves as well as indoor heated spaces for the colder months.


Ben Farniok is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.