Two non-related Mountain Lion cubs are being cared for at Oakland Zoo’s veterinary hospital. In recent weeks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) rescued the cubs separately.
The male and female cubs, both approximately 9-10 weeks of age, are doing well and are being attended by Zoo vet staff around the clock. Because the cubs were orphaned too young to have the survival skills necessary for release, they will ultimately be permanently placed at an appropriate permanent facility when they are strong enough.
“We are so pleased that the Oakland Zoo was willing and able to play a role in saving the life of these cubs,” said Nicole Carion, CDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator. “Returning injured or orphaned wildlife to the wild is always the ideal outcome, but in situations like this -- where an animal is too young to have the necessary survival skills -- placing it back in the wild would be a death sentence. In those cases, we rely on zoos with experienced wildlife specialists and resources to step in and provide critical care. These cubs are small and in need of a temperature-controlled environment where they can stay warm. The Oakland Zoo’s veterinary facility was exactly what these animals needed, at exactly the right time.”
The male, first to arrive in late September, is from Modoc County. The cub was orphaned after its mother, which was reportedly killing sheep in the area, was shot and killed under a legal depredation permit. In the state of California, a person who suffers property damage by Mountain Lions is entitled to obtain a depredation permit to protect their property.
The second cub, a female, was discovered in Lake County after a property owner heard ‘chirps’ from what he believed to be a bird over a period of seven days. Mountain Lion cubs make a high-pitched ‘chirping’ sound when calling for their mother. The property owner did not disturb the animal until he observed the cub’s health was in serious decline.
According to Katie Woolery, Assistant Director at Sonoma Wildlife Rescue, an adult Mountain Lion, struck and killed by a car, was discovered five miles away around the same time but it’s not confirmed that this was the cub’s mother.
CDFW placed the female cub with Sonoma Wildlife Rescue on September 12, where it was examined and treated. The cub was severely dehydrated, emaciated, covered in parasites and burrs.
“While we don’t know for sure what caused this female cub to become orphaned, we do know that one of the biggest threat to Mountain Lions in California is traffic, with 107 animals killed by automobiles in 2016 alone,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.