Orphaned Cougar Cub Adopted by Oakland Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 13, 2022 10:55 pm

Orphaned Mountain Lion at Oakland Zoo

A keeper provides food to the cougar cub which is now in care at the Oakland Zoo

Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

After an exhaustive five day search an orphaned cougar cub has been found in the nick of time and brought to Oakland Zoo for life-saving veterinary care. Named Rose by caregivers at Oakland Zoo the cub is estimated to be between four and five months old.

Rose was extremely emaciated when she arrived to Oakland Zoo around 3PM on Sunday and weighed just 8.8lbs compared to the healthy weight of 30lbs for this species at this age.

Based on her initial exam, it appears she hasn’t eaten in weeks. She is excruciatingly thin.  To survive, her body resorted to consuming its own muscle mass. She is also suffering from extreme dehydration, and her temperature was so low it couldn’t even be read. But she survived her first night, which was critical. We can already tell she has a feisty spirit and an obvious will to live, and we’re thankful for that,” said VP of Veterinary Services at Oakland Zoo, Dr. Alex Herman.

She was first seen last Tuesday by a group of hikers in the Thornewood Open Space Preserve in San Mateo, part of the MidPeninsula Open Space District. Wildlife biologists from MidPen were contacted and they joined with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in efforts to find the cub.

The team worked to establish cameras in the forest to find the cub. On Friday they identified the cub on the cameras but upon their arrival she could not be located. A MidPen wildlife biologist and ranger, along with two wildlife biologists from CDFW located and retrieved the cub on Sunday bringing her to Oakland Zoo for life-saving care.

Orphaned Mountain Lion at Oakland Zoo

The orphaned cougar cub is seen during its rescue by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)

Photo Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)

Rose is now being tended to round the clock at Oakland Zoo. Unfortunately she is suffering from a number of ailments including starvation, dehydration, and being covered in fleas and ticks.

Blood tests conducted on arrival showed a dangerously low red blood cell count with vets able to treat this through a transfusion using one of the zoo's resident rescued cougars as a donor.

Vets are currently cautiously optimistic about her condition with the care team managing to feed her bottles every few hours. She even managed to consume a small amount of meat in a positive sign for her recovery.

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We appreciate the hiker and the team at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District who alerted us to the mountain lion cub and its condition. The Santa Cruz Mountains provide good habitat for mountain lions, but it’s rare to see a mountain lion because they’re elusive creatures. If you see a mountain lion, do not approach it. Adult animals, when out hunting prey, may leave offspring somewhere safe for up to days at a time. Seeing a young animal by itself does not indicate that it is an orphan and intervention is appropriate,” said CDFW Biologist Garrett Allen.  

Unfortunately for Rose being abandoned at such a young age means she has missed the learning opportunities which cougars undertake with their parents across their first two years of life.

As a result of this Rose will be placed in a permanent home by the Oakland Zoo and CDFW one she is considered healthy, likely at another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoo.

This is the eighteenth cougar cub to be treated by the Oakland Zoo since 2017. Three of these have found a home at Oakland Zoo and can be seen in their California Trail section, often sharing a large hammock together, showing their close bond.  

Learn more about Cougars here - Cougar Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Oakland Zoo on their website – Oakland Zoo

Orphaned Mountain Lion at Oakland Zoo

The rescued cougar cub is seen during its first examination after arriving at the Oakland Zoo

Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

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