Only four to six weeks old, an orphaned mountain lion cub suffering from severe wildfire burns was discovered and rescued by a Cal Fire firefighter on September 30 in an area of the Zogg Fire near Redding. The cub is much too small to be released into the wild and if currently recovering at the Oakland Zoo.
Upon discovering and capturing the lone cub, Cal Fire contacted the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department, who in turn contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW veterinarians, who are tirelessly working to save the lives of so many wildlife victims trapped by the recent fires throughout California, then contacted Oakland Zoo veterinarians for help in treating the cub.
Oakland Zoo staff immediately examined and treated the very young male cub, weighing only 3.75 pounds – and reported he was badly burned, especially his paws. His whiskers are completely singed off, and there is severe irritation to his eyes as well. The cub was cleaned and given antibiotics, supportive fluids, pain medication and fed milk formula for kittens. The cub is currently eating on his own and acting feisty – both promising signs for his recovery.
“We’re grateful to be part of this amazing little cub’s rescue and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Alex Herman, Director of Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital. “It’s an amazing effort between Cal Fire, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department, and of course our partners at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. In the past two years, this marks our thirteenth mountain lion cub rescue for Oakland Zoo in partnership with CDFW. We’re cautiously optimistic that this cub will now survive and thrive, our dedicated team at Oakland Zoo is fully committed to do everything we can for him and for his beautiful species.”
In the wild, Mountain lion cubs stay with their mothers until they are around two years of age in order to learn the skills to survive on their own. Because this cub is orphaned and now unable to learn how to survive in the wild, he will be placed in a suitable forever home once he’s ready to leave Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital.
Aside from wildfires, Mountain lions are facing numerous threats in California; often struck by cars and illegally poached. These factors culminate in the human-wildlife conflict, putting them at odds with humans in encroaching urban areas and developments.