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Everyone loved Pisgah the cougar. How will his brother fare now that he is gone?

Everyone loved Pisgah the cougar.

Along with his brother, Mitchell, he was among the “most well known and cherished residents” at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, a non-profit wildlife sanctuary in Asheville.

“With great sadness,” the center on Friday announced that Pisgah had died “after a period of declining health.”

Now his legions of fans worry how his brother will get along without him.

Pisgah was diagnosed with kidney failure several years ago, according to the center. The disease recently worsened to where the 8-year-old Western cougar was no longer responding to treatment by the center’s staff.

Pisgah and his brother joined the center in May 2011 and were named through a community contest.

They were cubs when they arrived from the Oregon Zoo in Portland, the center posted on Facebook.

“They have been a joy to watch as they grew to adulthood,” Christ Gentile, the center’s director, said in Friday’s post. “It is a sad day for us here at the Nature Center.”

The community also mourned, including the students and staff at Sugarloaf Elementary School. They’d named their school mascot after Pisgah.

With a heavy heart we report the passing of our beloved mascot, Pisgah,” the school posted on Facebook. “Forever in our hearts.”

Pisgah’s fans also expressed condolences on the center’s Facebook page.

“This is so sad,” Brittany Owens said. “I hope Mitchell will be okay too. “

“Our staff is closely monitoring Mitchell and planning the best future for him,” the center replied. “Thank you for your kind words.”

“So sorry for your loss,” said Kayla Hudson. “Let us know if your staff or zoo needs anything. You’ve got an amazing community behind you at this time.“

“Thank you for your kind words,” replied the center. “He will be greatly missed.”

Friends of the Western North Carolina Nature Center is raising $625 for an “enrichment” toy for Mitchell, a Weeble made for large animals.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak
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