Near-Death Mountain Lion Cub Becomes Third Feline Orphan Rescued by Oakland Zoo in One Month

The most recent mountain lion to move into the zoo was found orphaned, starving and barely able to walk

Photo: Courtesy Oakland Zoo

An itty-bitty mountain lion cub looking for love is now in good company.

The 6- to 8-week-old baby was found orphaned, near-death and unable defend itself out in the wild by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. CDFW brought the cub to the Oakland Zoo for care, the organization’s third such delivery in the past month.

According to the California zoo, this most recent cub arrived on Dec. 23 and was the youngest and weakest out of the unrelated trio.

Upon arriving at the zoo, the animal was too dehydrated to stand. The effects of starvation were so severe that the cub’s body had started breaking down its own muscle mass to survive. Zoo veterinarians hooked the furry little fighter to continuous IV fluids filled with much-needed nutrients for six days with around-the-clock care.

Courtesy Oakland Zoo

After a week of fluids and bottle feedings, the female cub started showing a few more signs of life: walking on her own and interacting with her caretakers. Fast forward to today and the zoo’s staff is calling the cub “spunky” based her appetite for solid foods and love of enrichment toys.

Courtesy Oakland Zoo

This abandoned baby and the other recently rescued cubs will all end up living at the zoo’s California Trail. Unfortunately, since all the babies missed out on important survival lessons from their moms, the cubs are unable to fend for themselves in the wild.

At their new home, the cubs will help raise awareness about California’s dwindling mountain lion population. Many of the animals don’t live long in the wild due to humans hitting the cats with their cars or shooting them when they appear on their properties.

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The Oakland Zoo is working with the Mountain Lion Foundation and the Bay Area Puma Project to protect wild mountain lions, launching the Bay Area Cougar Action Team in 2013 to help mountain lions survive human-animal conflicts.

Courtesy Oakland Zoo

“We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve mountain lions in the wild, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock. Oakland Zoo will continue to work in our BACAT Alliance with CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bay Area Puma Project, Mountain Lion Foundation to inspire our community to both understand and take action for our precious local lion,” Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at the Oakland Zoo, said in a press statement.

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Along with feeding the cubs a mix of baby food, raw meat and mice, the zoo is creating a brand new home for the trio. Oakland Zoo is working on a 26,000-sq.-ft. mountain lion habitat that mimics the species’ natural home in the California mountains. The cubs are set to move into the new space in February or March, and will make their public debut when the exhibit officially opens this summer.

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