Domesticated mountain lions sound like an oxymoron, but after some amusing tweets from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the state, it seems, is wondering if such ownership is really a bad idea.
On January 20, the government ministry tweeted a picture of a mountain lion lying in the snow with the caption “YOU are cold. They have fur. Don’t let them in.” The tweet has been shared more than 22,000 times as Twitter users defied advice and expressed an interest in petting or owning a mountain lion.
“My message is always ‘Don’t pet the mountain lions,’ and I was so scared I was going to wake up in the morning and people, all over the internet, just decided they were going to do it anyway,” Sarah Southerland, the wildlife department’s social media coordinator, told Live Science.
Related: In photos: Elusive cougars come out of hiding
You are cold. They have fur. Don’t let in. pic.twitter.com/WrVIdF9mkhJanuary 20, 2022
The mountain lion tweet was inspired by a meme – usually an image with text that is shared around the the Internet – showing a mountain lion with the slogan: “If you’re cold, they’re cold, bring them inside.” This slogan was first used to encourage pet owners to bring their pets indoors during the cold winter months, but netizens have created parodies for things that aren’t usually kept indoors. inside, like pumas, according to Know Your Meme, a website that researches and documents memes.
The wildlife department’s tweet playfully explained that people shouldn’t let mountain lions in. When Twitter users started playfully disagreeing in the comments, the tweet spread. “It was a slow burn, then once it picked up it was a wildfire,” Darrin Hill, a wildlife department producer who wrote the original tweet, told Live Science.
Over 3,000 people commented on the post and thousands more responded with retweets. To combat those in favor of mountain lion entry, Southerland stayed up until 3 a.m. local time on January 22, responding to comments with disapproving GIFs of the show’s character Ron Swanson. TV show “Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015).
The current state of the union: pic.twitter.com/NqtvXWoapAJanuary 22, 2022
Southerland also photoshopped pictures of corgi fights dogs to illustrate his battle with Twitter users over owning cougar pets. This resulted in the publication of a montage of corgis, each expressing a different aspect of the cougar debate. “I had to call my supervisor and say, ‘Okay, look, this is what’s happening and I think I need to add more corgis,'” Southerland said.
But did Twitter users really want to let cougars into their homes? “I think most people know they’re not big house cats and they’re very dangerous,” Hill said. But he added that although they know it’s a bad idea, people want to think they could keep these predators as pets.
Jerrod Davis, senior wildlife biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, noted that mountain lions are wild animals and it is illegal to keep them as pets in Oklahoma. “Wild animals are unpredictable and confining them to your home can be extremely dangerous, both to the animal and to the human,” Davis said. “They can take care of themselves much better than any human.”
Originally posted on Live Science.