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You can vote on names for orphaned cougar kittens brought to MN

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Two orphaned kittens were brought to Minnesota recently after their mother died. And their caretakers are asking the public to help name them.

They're not your average house cats, though. They're baby cougars who arrived at the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone over the weekend.

The kittens came from Washington state, where wildlife officials found the two youngsters on their own after their mother was apparently killed, WDIO reports.

Officials there contacted the sanctuary to see if it could take in the animals – a male and a female.

Sanctuary staff scrambled to get things in order for the new arrivals, and they were flown in from Washington on Saturday evening.

“Our first choice is that they both could’ve grown up in the wild. But, when that isn’t possible, we’re happy to provide them a second chance at life here at The Wildcat Sanctuary,” director Tammy Thies said in a statement on the group's website.

She noted that the sanctuary has raised five other orphaned cougar kittens in recent years.

The animals are getting used to their new surroundings, but since cougars normally live in the wild and aren't socialized to humans, it'll take some time to acclimate them to being around people, Thies said.

The female cougar appears to have an injured hip, but seems to be recovering, according to the sanctuary.

Help choose their names

Now the next step is to choose names for them, and the sanctuary is inviting the public to help decide.

Several pairs of names are in the running, including some that are holiday-themed like Nicholas and Noel, Dasher and Dancer, Candy and Cane, and Snow and Storm.

People can vote online here, until the deadline of noon on Friday, Dec. 11.

As of Tuesday evening, about 1,300 votes have been cast, and the leading name choice is Snow and Storm, with 24 percent of the votes. Nicholas and Noel are not far behind, with 22 percent.

The organization is also accepting donations online to help pay for the animals' care.

The Wildcat Sanctuary, which cares for about 100 tigers, leopards, cougars and bobcats, is the only certified refuge for large wildcats in Minnesota. It's funded solely by private donations.

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