The graceful mountain lion has long been thought to be a solitary animal, a powerful predator that hunts by stealth and keeps to itself. But researchers at Panthera Puma Program in Wyoming have put together a short film using trail cam footage that shows how loving family members really are. Following a collared female as she raises her cubs, we see a different side to these big cats, one that hopefully inspires the conservation of this important species.

Mountain lions — also called cougars, pumas, ghost cats, catamounts, and over 40 other names — once roamed across most of the United States. But with hunting and habitat loss, the cats were almost completely wiped out of eastern and mid-western states. There are only about 100 panthers left in Florida, and the number of cats in western states has leveled out at around 30,000 individuals.

"'The Secret Life of Mountain Lions' provides a rare glimpse into the family and social bonds of mountain lions. It affirms their rightful place in nature and the importance of protecting them for generations to come," writes Panthera.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

New video reveals the secret life of mountain lions
Beautiful footage gives us a close look at the intimate family life of a wild female cougar and her cubs as they struggle to survive.