The whimpers of separation were replaced by cries of happiness and playful nips on the neck this week when two natural enemies raised as best friends were reunited in Topanga, a suburb located in the hills of western Los Angeles.
“You could feel this tension that left him. He just knew it was over.
The whole ordeal was over,” said Larry Mann, whose heartbroken wolf had been caged in the East Valley Animal Shelter for a week pining away for the mountain lion he’d been raised with since he was 3 weeks old.
Envy the mountain lion and Levon the wolf, both 8 months old, are back together again, now residing at The Nature of Wildworks in Topanga. The pals were among 16 animals seized Dec. 11 from Mann at his home, in the L.A. suburb of Elysian Heights because he did not have the proper permits to keep the animals.
The mountain lion was adopted by Mollie Hogan, a trainer at the Los Angeles Zoo who also runs Wildworks, but she was initially afraid her nonprofit would not have enough funds to support Levon as well.
But she only had Envy for a day when she realized she couldn’t keep the two apart.
“When the wolf walked up, you could hear the wildcat go, ‘Woooooooo.’ It was just the loudest scream,” Hogan said of the reunion that took place earlier this week. “They just fell all over each other.”
A few days later, it was as though they’d never been apart. They play rough with each other but never so rough that they’ve drawn blood, Mann said.
Lounging around with an upset stomach, Levon required some, but not much, prompting from Envy to roughhouse for a little bit. It starts with a gentle tap, then quickly there’s nothing but fur and fangs tangling in a churning ball.
“Look at that mouth,” Hogan said as the wolf’s mouth opens just next to the cougar’s much smaller face. “The whole head goes into it.”
They tire, separate, and then start over.
Mann said the wolf will eventually mature and want more canine companionship, so he hopes to take Levon back home with him after he can get the proper permits from the city and the state’s Department of Fish and Game.
One permit he will need is from the city’s Department of Animal Regulation, and that permission might be difficult to obtain considering it was Mann’s escaped emus that led officials to the other unpermitted animals, a department spokesman said. Mann will need to convince officials that he can keep the animals safely confined.
“He hasn’t done a very good job of that in the past,” spokesman Peter Persic said.
But Envy’s plans are more certain: he’s staying at Wildworks along with two mountain lions retired from the L.A. Zoo and several other wild animals left unemployed by the zoo or confiscated from their owners.
Because Envy is declawed, Hogan intends to train him so he can take part in educational shows she presents at schools. “We’re trying to make her a good ambassador,” Mann.