The Eira cat in Costa Rica.

Scientific name: Herpailurus yaguarundi.

Distribution: From Texas, southern United States, to most of South America, up to 2000 meters above sea level.

The Breñero Lion in Costa Rica, also known as Yaguarundí, is a discreet and lesser-known animal to many people, sometimes mistaken for other large felines like the black jaguar (Panthera onca). However, this has given its population the possibility to recover and continue its ecological functions. It is considered endangered by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) in Costa Rica.

"Misti and Lola: Our rescued mountain lions."

Misti and Lola arrived at the Natuwa Wildlife Sanctuary when they were just a few weeks old. Misti was found by people who were clearing a bush to plant corn near Carara National Park.

Unfortunately, they destroyed her home and her mother had no choice but to flee the area. Despite SINAC’s efforts, who waited for hours for the mother to return for her cub, she never did. Misti was too young and helpless to be left alone, as she would have suffered starvation and dehydration without being able to fend for herself.

Therefore, officials decided to bring her to Natuwa, where she found shelter and protection. Lola arrived a month later, also thanks to SINAC. Officials say she was confiscated from a house located near Herradura, where she was kept as a pet. 

Unfortunately, both Misti and Lola will remain in captivity due to their affinity with humans. They have developed closeness and trust towards people, which makes their reintegration into nature difficult.

Puma Yagouaroundi

"Misti and Lola: Rescued Mountain Lions and Their Special Care at Natuwa."

In the exciting story of Misti and Lola, two rescued mountain lions, the extraordinary work that takes place at the Natuwa Sanctuary to give them a second chance is highlighted. 

These little felines arrived at the sanctuary when they were just a few weeks old, in unfortunate circumstances that left them without the care of their mother. 

Thanks to the tireless efforts of SINAC officials, Misti and Lola found refuge and protection in Natuwa. However, caring for these mountain lions is not an easy task. 

From the beginning, they faced unique challenges such as the difficulty of acquiring the specialized milk necessary to feed the baby felids, which is expensive and hard to come by. 

But thanks to the commitment and dedication of the sanctuary caretakers, Misti and Lola received proper care and grew up healthy and strong. 

Misti and Lola are a living testimony of the importance of wildlife sanctuaries like Natuwa, where protection and care are provided to animals in vulnerable situations.

El León breñero en Costa Rica

Natural History of the Eira cat in Costa Rica: Adaptations and Behavior

Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Yaguarundí, also known as the Eira cat, and discover its amazing adaptations and behavior in its natural habitat in Costa Rica. This unique feline belongs to the Carnivora Order and has distinctive characteristics that allow it to survive and thrive in its environment.

The Eira cat has a round head and a short snout, with tactile hairs that help it in hunting. Its skin can vary between spots and stripes, depending on its juvenile or adult stage. In addition, it has retractable claws and digitigrade legs, which allows it to walk on its toes in an agile and silent way.

This solitary and agile feline is an excellent climber and swimmer. Its diet consists of a wide variety of prey, such as fish, birds, monkeys, and fruits. Although it is an efficient predator, its hunting success rate varies, which makes its feeding more irregular than in captivity.

Despite its adaptability, the Eira cat faces numerous challenges in its natural habitat. Human activities and habitat loss have restricted its distribution, putting it in danger of extinction in Costa Rica. However, globally, its conservation status is considered “Least Concern” according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In indigenous cultures, this fascinating feline was considered a symbol of power and was represented in crafts and stories alongside other large felines in the region. Although difficult to spot due to its discreet behavior, the Eira cat can be observed in protected areas, such as Palo Verde National Park in Guanacaste province.

Explore more about the natural history of the Eira cat and marvel at its unique adaptations and fundamental role in Costa Rica’s ecosystem. Its conservation is crucial in maintaining balance and biodiversity in our beautiful country.

What do young Eira cats look like?

Although sometimes young Eira cats have spotted skin during their juvenile stage, this characteristic is not very common and it is much more common for different individuals within the same family group to have three distinctive colorations throughout their lives: black, gray and reddish.

Interesting facts about the Jaguarundi or mountain cat.

  1. Sometimes, it is confused with the black jaguar (Panthera onca) and the tayra (Eira barbara) due to its shape and coloring.
  2. It can remain active during both day and night, unlike other wild felines that only come out at night.
  3. Although it is not considered a “key species” or “umbrella species” as compared to other wild felines, the Central American wildcat faces threats such as hunting, urbanization, and agricultural expansion, which reduce its habitat and affect its competition with other species like the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).
  4. In Costa Rica, the Central American wildcat is endangered, whereas globally, it is classified as “Least Concern.”
  5. Like other wild felines, the Central American wildcat is also vulnerable to car accidents on roads.
  6. With appropriate care and environmental enrichment measures, it can live up to 15 years in captivity.

Captivity management, diet, and environmental enrichment.

The bush lion requires large spaces in captivity to develop properly. In Natuwa, we provide it with a large enclosure where it can move freely. 

As this animal has arboreal habits and is a good swimmer, it is important that its enclosure has artificial structures to climb on and places with water to cool off.


In regards to its diet, it is supplemented with meat from various types of animals, such as organs, livers, and hearts, which provide the necessary fibers and proteins for its development. 

It is also given nutritional supplements that promote its health and physical appearance. A strict feeding protocol is followed in order to not disrupt its natural patterns, since in the wild, as a predator, it is not successful in most of its hunts nor does it feed as frequently as in captivity.

El León breñero en Costa Rica
El León breñero en Costa Rica

At Natuwa Wildlife Sanctuary, we work towards wildlife conservation and support the preservation of wild felines such as the Eira cat. Our goal is to contribute to the recovery of their population and raise awareness through environmental education.

Importance of conserving the Eira cat in Costa Rica.

The Eira cat, also known as the Jaguarundi, is a species of feline that holds great importance in the ecosystem of Costa Rica. Although it is a discreet and little-known animal to many people, its presence plays a crucial role in the balance of forests and biodiversity in the country.

The conservation of the Yaguarundi is fundamental due to its endangered status in Costa Rica, according to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC). The degradation of its natural habitat, caused by human activities, has led to a significant decline in its population in the country.

By preserving the Yaguarundi, the continuity of its ecological functions, such as the control of rodent populations and other small mammals, is ensured. These felines play a key role in regulating prey populations and maintaining species diversity in ecosystems.

Furthermore, the conservation of the Yaguarundi contributes to the protection of flora and fauna in general, as its presence indicates the health and balance of ecosystems. By preserving this species, the conservation of other organisms that depend on its habitat, including birds, reptiles, and insects, is promoted.

Environmental education and awareness are key components in Yaguarundi conservation efforts. It is essential to inform the population about the importance of this species and the challenges it faces for its survival. Through awareness and knowledge, behavioral changes and concrete actions can be promoted to protect these felines and their natural environment.

Collaboration between conservation organizations, government authorities, and the local community is essential to implement effective conservation measures. This can include the creation and protection of natural areas, the establishment of biological corridors, and the promotion of sustainable practices in human activities that affect the habitat of the Yaguarundi.

In summary, the conservation of the Yaguarundi in Costa Rica is of vital importance to preserve the country’s biodiversity and ecological balance. By protecting this emblematic species, numerous other species that depend on its habitat are also safeguarded, thus contributing to the natural and cultural richness of Costa Rica.

Discover the Eira cat at Natuwa and join our cause!

At Natuwa, we invite you to meet the fascinating Breñero Lion and contribute to its conservation. Immerse yourself in this incredible experience and discover the beauty and mystery of this endangered feline. 

At our Wildlife Sanctuary, you can admire these majestic animals up close and learn about their history, behavior, and the threats they face in nature. Our highly trained caregivers will guide you on an educational and exciting tour, providing valuable information about the importance of their preservation.

Your visit to Natuwa not only allows you to enjoy this unforgettable experience, but also directly contributes to our cause. The funds raised are allocated to the protection and conservation of the Eira cat and other endangered species. Your support will help us expand our rescue, rehabilitation, and environmental education efforts, ensuring a sustainable future for these wonderful creatures.

Join us at Natuwa and be part of the change. Your visit and support make a difference in the protection and preservation of Costa Rica’s natural wealth. Come and discover the magic of the Eira cat at Natuwa!


Actualizado: 26/06/2023

Sitio de Manejo Vida Silvestre NATUWA,

Aranjuez, Puntarenas.


  • Amien, R; Blanco, K; & Morera, C. (2015). Felinos de Costa Rica: Compendio de investigaciones realizadas en la UNA. [Archivo pdf]. Recuperado de:
  • Arias, A. (2016). Puma yaguarundí. [Archivo pdf]. Recuperado de:
  • Fernandez, P. (Sin fecha). Felinos en la arqueología de Costa Rica: pasado y presente. [Archivo pdf]. Recuperado de:
  • International Unión for Nature Conservation. (2020). Jaguarundi. Herpailurus yaguarundi. Recuperado de:
  • 5Mora, J. (2000). Los mamíferos silvestres de Costa Rica. San José, Costa Rica: EUNED.
  • Solano, A. (2016). Yaguarundi en cautiverio regresara a su hábitat. Recuperado de: