Orphaned mountain lion cubs find home at Oakland Zoo

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Two orphaned mountain lion cubs have found a new home at the Oakland Zoo. The cubs were brought to the Bay Area after their mother was believed to have been struck and killed by a motorist in Orange County.

The cubs are Santa Ana mountain lions, which are the most at-risk in the nation. According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, the isolated Orange County population could not afford to lose two more cubs.

The cubs are both male and around 3-4 months old, each weighing just under 30 lbs. According to zookeepers, they’re doing well, and one has a feisty personality while the other is shy and cautious.
The young lions were found two weeks and 15 miles apart, but due to their age and close proximity to each other, it’s believed they are siblings. Oakland Zoo veterinarians are conducting DNA tests to confirm this.

The Oakland Zoo’s 56-acre California Trail expansion will serve as home for the two cubs. The mountain lion habitat is currently under construction, but the 26,000 square-foot area will be ready for its two new residents in February or March. The area—which will be one of the largest mountain lion exhibits in the world—is designed to mimic the natural habitat of California mountain lions and will be complete with oak trees, rocky caves and platforms for climbing and resting.

“It is an honor to provide a forever home for these young mountain lions, and honor their lives further by working to help conserve their wild counterparts,” Oakland Zoo Director of Conservation Amy Gotliffe said. “We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve pumas, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock.”

The mountain lion cubs and the story of their mother’s death will serve to educate zoo visitors.

The two baby mountain lions were initially cared for by the Feline Conservation Center in Lake Forest before their transfer to the Oakland Zoo. They are currently in quarantine and receiving medical attention at zoo’s Veterinary Hospital. Right now, zoo staff are helping the cubs bond with each other, and build their confidence and trust.

The California Trail and mountain lion exhibit will be open to visitors in June 2018.