Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs from Half Moon Bay Receiving Treatment at Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo
February 20, 2019
Oakland Zoo’s Director of Veterinary Services, Karen Emanuelson, performing exam on one of the Mountian lions.
Dr. Karen Emanuelson, and the Oakland Zoo veterinary team performing full health exam on rescued Mountain lions

(TOP / LEFT & BOTTOM / RIGHT: Oakland Zoo’s Director of Veterinary Services, Karen Emanuelson, and the veterinary team performing full health exam on rescued Mountain lions)

Oakland, CA – February 20, 2019… California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) found and rescued two orphaned mountain lion siblings yesterday in Half Moon Bay. They were immediately transported to Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital where the veterinary staff performed a full health exam (under sedation) on the four-month-old Mountain lions. They were found to be dehydrated and malnourished. They also had lesions and ticks on their bodies. One of the mountain lions was suffering from a nose wound from what appears to be an altercation with a skunk

As they receive ongoing care and treatment from Oakland Zoo veterinary staff, CDFW is currently in search of a forever home for these two cubs. Due to their young age and lack of survival skills, CDFW has determined they are unable to return to the wild. The lions will remain at Oakland Zoo until the cubs are healthy and a suitable, permanent home is found. Because the Zoo already has three mountain lions, acquired in late 2017 and also orphans, it isn’t possible to keep these any additional mountain lions at Oakland Zoo.

“The two mountain lion kittens have created quite a stir in the sleepy ocean side town. The adult female was nowhere to be seen. CDFW personnel have checked records for possible radio collared lions and have asked for information about possible roadkill but have no evidence of what happened to the female lion. These are very difficult wildlife management decisions. The best-case scenario is for the kittens to find their way back to a mother mountain lion. CDFW gave them 24 hours to find their way back and only when it became apparent that they were on their own but too young to survive, did they make the call to capture them,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Representative.

Without a mother present, cubs lack survival skills, such as hunting (a basic survival tool), out in the wild which severely lowers their survival rate. Mountain lions are becoming critically endangered in the California, often struck by cars or shot when seen as a threat in encroaching urban areas and developments.

“Oakland Zoo is committed to the conservation of mountain lions and is proud to have the staffing and resources to take action for this important species.  We are thankful for the partnership with CDFW, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the Bay Area Puma project and the others working as an alliance to protect mountain lions and to vision a Bay Area where we live sustainably with our native big cats” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.

Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, an alliance with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help support the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to save mountain lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict.



Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850+ native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.