Lions And Zoos

‘Extremely emaciated’ orphan mountain lion cub rescued and cared for at Oakland Zoo

A five-day search for an “extremely emaciated” orphan mountain lion cub in San Mateo County resulted in a victory on Sunday, after biologists located the cub and brought her to the Oakland Zoo for treatment.

Rose, as the cub was nicknamed by her keepers, had been subjected to severe starvation and dehydration but survived her first night, which was “critical”, the zoo’s vice president of veterinary services said. ‘Oakland, Dr. Alex Herman.

“We can already tell she has a fiery spirit and a clear will to live, and we’re grateful for that,” Herman said.

Rose was first spotted at the Thornewood Open Space Preserve in San Mateo County by hikers, who reported the location to the MidPeninsula Open Space District, according to a statement from the Oakland Zoo. MidPen biologists then teamed up with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to locate the cub, deploying daily patrols and cameras to the area where she was last seen.

One of the cameras captured Rose on Friday, but she disappeared again by the time search members arrived, zoo officials said.

Three wildlife biologists finally located Rose on Sunday and brought her to a veterinary team being held at the Oakland Zoo.

Vets are “cautiously optimistic” about Rose’s recovery, zoo officials said, while stressing the serious condition she was found in.

Rose, who is estimated to be four or five months old, was “extremely emaciated”, weighing just 8.8 pounds, when the average healthy woman her age would be around 30. Vets said it looked like she hadn’t eaten in weeks, and her body had resorted to consuming its own muscle mass.

The little one was covered in fleas and ticks, and blood tests show a very low red blood cell count. If the number remains low, she could receive a blood transfusion from one of the zoo’s previously rescued pumas, who is now a healthy adult, said Dr. Ryan Sadler of the Oakland Zoo.

The zoo’s care team currently bottle-feeds Rose several times a day, although the cub ate meat on Monday morning.

The zoo official said the cameras will remain in place in the MidPeninsula Open Space District in case there are other mountain lions, including lion cubs, in the area.

Even if Rose’s recovery is successful, she will not be released back into the wild, zoo officials said, adding that the cubs stay with their mothers for up to two years to learn how to hunt and survive independently. The Oakland Zoo and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will work to find a home for Rose, likely at an accredited zoo.

Rose is the 18th orphan mountain lion cub the Oakland Zoo has received and rehabilitated from the state since 2017, zoo officials said. Three of the 18, Coloma, Toro and Silverado, still reside at the Oakland Zoo.

Megan Cassidy is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @meganrcassidy