Abandoned Mountain Lion Cub Recovers At Oakland Zoo

Matt Bigler
December 09, 2019 - 4:19 pm
An abandoned mountain lion appears to be making a full recovery with zookeepers at the Oakland Zoo on Dec. 9, 2019.

Steven Gotz; Oakland Zoo


A rescued mountain lion cub continues to recover nicely at the Oakland Zoo, after nearly perishing in El Dorado County last month. 

The cub's predicament highlights the growing amount of conflict between humans and wildlife across California. 

The young cat, barely a month old, has been putting on weight and gaining strength after arriving in a weakened state at the zoo's veterinary hospital. 

The cub was one of three that were found in an abandoned den by a homeowner who hear the animals crying near Highway 50 outside of Somerset. 

One was already dead, while the other two were malnourished. They were rescued and taken to the vet hospital at the Oakland Zoo, but the female died within 24 hours. The surviving male cub is bouncing back.  

An abandoned mountain lion cub has been gaining strength at the Oakland Zoo since being rescued from El Dorado County on Nov. 24, 2019.
Steven Gotz; Oakland Zoo

“He was extremely cachectic, which means he had lost a lot of weight, and he was dehydrated, so he was in big danger,” said veterinarian and Oakland Zoo Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Joel Parrott. “But he’s doing great. He’s really made a tremendous recovery from when he first entered.”

Parrott said it’s not known what happened to the mother, but most likely, she was killed during some encounter with humans.

Such encounters are common in California, which has more mountain lions than all other states. 

“The mother vanishes, usually hit by a car or possibly shot, and someone didn’t realize that there’s a whole litter [of cubs> hidden away somewhere, and then the kittens are on their own,” said Parrott.

Once the cub is able to eat solid food and is fully recuperated, he will be transferred to a new home at the El Paso Zoo.

In a press release, the Oakland Zoo said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has rescued and brought 10 orphaned mountain lion cubs to the zoo in the last two years.