Mountain lions, according to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, are not good pets. The internet isn't so sure.
A mountain lion rolls around in the snow. The big cat is likely not cold in its natural environment. '9Shutterstock)
Pet mountain lions may seem like an oxymoron, but after some amusing tweeting by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the state appears to be reconsidering whether such ownership is truly harmful.
The government department posted a photo of a mountain lion sleeping in the snow on Jan. 20, along with the comment "YOU are shivering. They're covered in fur. Allow no one inside. Twitter users rejected the advise and expressed interest in cuddling or owning a mountain lion, and the tweet was retweeted over 22,000 times.
My messaging is consistent at all times. Do not pet mountain lions, and I was terrified that I'd wake up in the morning to find that people, the entire Internet, had just decided to do it anyhow, according to Sarah Southerland, the wildlife department's social media coordinator.
The mountain lion tweet was inspired by a meme — a picture with text that is widely shared on the internet — depicting a mountain lion with the caption: If you're chilly, bring them inside. According to Know Your Meme, a website that researches and documents memes, this catchphrase was first used to encourage domestic pet owners to bring their pets inside during the cold winter months, but internet users created parodies for things that aren't usually kept inside, such as mountain lions.
The wildlife department's tweet joked that people shouldn't let mountain lions into their homes. The message gained traction when Twitter users began to disagree in amusing ways in the comments section. Darrin Hill, a wildlife department producer who came up with the original tweet, told Live Science, "It was a slow burn and then once it took up, it was a wildfire."
More than 3,000 individuals responded to the post with comments, and thousands more retweeted it. Southerland was up until 3 a.m. local time on Jan. 22 reacting to comments with disapproving GIFs of the Ron Swanson character from the television show "Parks and Recreation" to fight back against supporters in favor of letting mountain lions inside (2009-2015).
Did Twitter users, on the other hand, truly wish to invite mountain lions into their homes? Most people, I believe, are aware that they are not large house cats and are really deadly, according to Hill. Despite understanding that it's a poor idea, people want to believe that they could be able to keep such predators as pets, according to him.
Mountain lions are wild creatures, according to Jerrod Davis, a senior wildlife scientist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Keeping them as pets is banned in Oklahoma. According to Davis, wild animals are unpredictable, and restricting them in your home can be exceedingly harmful for both the animal and the person. They are far more capable of self-care than any human could possibly be.