Captain Cal: Road to Recovery

Oakland Zoo
October 12, 2020


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 in an area the Zogg Wildfire burned through on September 27th. He was brought to Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital for treatment and rehabilitation.

His touching story has captured the hearts of many, and we at Oakland Zoo want to keep you updated through his recovery.

See our latest Captain Cal Updates below!

What does the Zoo do for Mountain Lion Conservation?

The Bay Area Cougar Action Team (BACAT) is an alliance of like-minded organizations working together to ensure a safe future for Bay Area mountain lions (aka, cougars or pumas). Founding organizations include California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oakland Zoo/Conservation Society of California, the Mountain Lion Foundation and the Bay Area Puma Project. Other local organizations have since joined the force. Through this alliance, Oakland Zoo worked with California Department of Fish and Wildlife to bring Captain Cal to Oakland Zoo. Captain Cal is the 13th mountain lion to be rehabilitated and rescued at the Zoo.

October 19

Captain Cal's burn wounds are healing very quickly, and today he was relaxed and in front of his stall, instead of hiding when his primary keeper came by. So, healing well, and trusting and socializing well.  He also gained another half pound, as he moves away from kitten milk into a more meat-based diet. Very heartening!

October 18

Captain Cal is in good spirits! Here he is playing in shavings pan. Playing is so important for young animals, and we are very happy to see that he is feeling well enough to play.

October 15

Today Captain Cal had anesthesia and a bandage change. His wounds continue to slowly heal. Things look so good we are not doing anesthesia tomorrow, he will be able to relax and enjoy getting to know his two new sisters on Friday!

October 14

Exciting update! Today Captain Cal finally ventured out of his crate (still bandaged heavily but walking! He walked up to the partition between himself and the other two orphaned mountain lion cubs (females) that were also rescued from the Zogg Fire.

Based on their first meeting, this looks to be a great bond the 3 will form with each other! It’s sad that they ended up in the situation they have because of the devastating fire, but we are so happy that Captain Cal now has these two girls to grow up with for companionship and comfort.

Very soon the partition will be removed, it’s part of the introduction process that occurs in two phases.

We anesthetized him to change his bandages today and the burned pads are improving daily.

We’re very optimistic and happy!

October 13

We are very happy with Captain Cal's improvement! His feet are healing rapidly (new layers of skin are growing nicely) and today, we moved Captain to the ward, right next door to our two rescued sister mountain lions. These females are also rescues from the Zogg Fire, where their mother sadly died. The girls are in healthy shape, and during our first attempt to introduce everyone, the girls were comfortable coming right up to the grate separating their rooms to have their meal. Captain, however, was more shy, and will take a little more time getting used to the "new digs."

Captain meets the girls
The sisters, "Pink Nose" and "Black Nose"

October 12

Update from Dr. Herman, VP Veterinary Services

Today Captain Cal is bright, alert, and feisty. Eating well, and not needing an anesthetic procedure and bandage change for the first time since he has come to the Zoo! We are getting organized for his first meet and greet with the two cub girls tomorrow!  He continues to eat well and gain weight.


October 9

Live at Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital

Wonder what goes into rehabilitating and treating a rescued mountain lion? Check out our recent Facebook Live where Dr. Herman and her vet staff treat and check up on Captain Cal!


October 6

Update from Dr. Herman, VP Veterinary Services

Feisty and always ready for food! Here is Captain Cal enjoying a delicious milk and meat mixer.

While he continues to recover here at the hospital, we are monitoring all health progress. From wrapping his feet wounds every day to treating parasites – Captain is getting all the TLC he needs from my staff and me.

Captain Cal remains bright and active and has a great appetite.

October 4

Update from Dr. Herman, VP Veterinary Services

Captain Cal received some treatment today to help improve the condition of his burnt paws. We removed dead skin tissue from his wounded feet. Removal of the dead skin allows for the antibiotics to work on the infected areas. We then re-bandaged each foot to help them heal.

Something this little guy is not- is food shy! He has been drinking all his formula and getting all the fluids he needs, which has helped him gain some weight! He has gone from 2 to 5 lbs!

Go, Captain Cal!!

October 2

The orphaned Mountain lion rescued from the Zogg Fire has a name: Captain Cal - named after the Cal Fire mascot.

September 30

Delivered in tonight's evening hours by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, this little guy was found alone by Cal Fire firefighters in the Zogg fire. He will be living at Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary hospital temporarily while nurtured back to health by our Vet Staff. He was severely burned by the fires but is responding well to treatment and eating well. He is about 4-6 weeks old. Without a mother to teach him the ropes, he cannot return to the wild once he is healthy. Once he has recovered, he will move to a forever home at another suitable facility.

VP of Animal Care Colleen Kinzley helps treat Captain Cal when he first arrived to our vet hospital.