The most recent, and youngest, arrived the night of December 23 in severe critical condition, more so than the first two cubs.
This third cub, estimated to be approximately 6-8 weeks of age, arrived near death, unable to stand or walk from such severe dehydration and starvation. Zoo vets found her starvation was so advanced, her body was consuming its own muscle mass. After six days of continuous IV fluids containing essential electrolytes and minerals, and round-the-clock bottle-feedings by Zoo veterinary staff, she began walking and showing signs of life. Vet staff joyously reports she is now regularly eating solid foods, showing spunky personality, and even ‘playing’ with her enrichment.
ZooBorns featured the story of the first two rescued cubs in an article from mid-December: “Oakland Zoo Cares for Mountain Lion Orphans”.
As determined by the CDFW, these three cubs cannot be released back in to the wild once their rehabilitation is complete, they would have no chance of survival. Unfortunately, they need their mothers to be effectively taught to hunt and survive. In the wild, even when the mother is present, the survival rate of Mountain Lion cubs is slim. Mountain Lions are becoming critically endangered in the California, often struck by cars or shot when seen as a threat in encroaching urban areas and developments. Oakland Zoo partners with the conservation organizations like the Mountain Lion Foundation and the Bay Area Puma Project to try and help conserve the species in the wild.
“Mountain Lion cubs need up to two years with their mom in order to learn how to survive and thrive. Human survival training is not possible. The Bay Area Puma Project supports Oakland Zoo’s efforts to care for Pumas that cannot be released into the wild,” said Zara McDonald, Executive Director of the Bay Area Puma Project.
Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, an alliance with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help support the CDFW save Mountain Lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict.
Yet unnamed, the newest kitten seems to be thriving in the past several days. Upon arrival, Zoo vet staff began treating her in the ICU with nine daily and overnight bottle-feedings of KMR (kitten milk replacer formula), grooming her with a soft cloth to mimic a mother’s tongue, and monitoring her progress constantly. She is now eating solid food. Her favorite stew is a combination of raw meat from Primal Pet Foods, chicken baby food, frozen mice that is warmed, and cod.