Since 2017, Oakland Zoo has cared for more than 20 rescued mountain lions. A vast majority of these are orphaned cubs, often found malnourished and in poor health. These mountain lions are brought to Oakland Zoo by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). Oakland Zoo's veterinary team provides immediate care, ongoing treatment, and provides shelter in our Intensive Care Unit and our quarantine wing. Rescued animals stay anywhere from just a few hours to several months. Whenever possible, rehabilitated mountain lions are released back into the wild -- sadly, a majority of rescued cubs are so young, that without their mothers to teach them essential skills, they wouldn't survive in the wild. In those cases, CDFW chooses "forever homes" at reputable organizations or sanctuaries.
In February 2023, Oakland Zoo expanded our rescued mountain lion program with the addition of a "head start space" for rescued cubs, adjacent to our resident mountain lions at California Trail. When rescued cubs are healthy enough to leave the vet hospital, they can move to this new space, where they're able to interact with our resident adult mountain lions. These interactions build social skills, help cubs adjust to non-hospital settings, and provide an easier transition to their future homes, giving them experience with animal neighbors, human visitors, and other factors.
Our mountain lion rescue space is currently vacant, and we are ready to care for the next rescues that are brought to us from CDFW.
Holly was discovered by a homeowner in Boulder Creek, California. When CDFW brought her to Oakland Zoo in December, she was critically ill. Fortunately, our vet hospital was able to nurse this 3-4 month old orphaned cub back to health, and Holly moved from the ICU to her own room at the hospital.
Hazel was spotted wandering alone near Santa Cruz by a local resident. After determining there was no mother nearby, CDFW brought her to Oakland Zoo in early January. Like Holly, Hazel was also in critically ill condition. Our vet team worked around the clock to care for Hazel, including giving her a live-saving blood transfusion from our resident mountain lion Silverado.
In early February of 2023, Holly and Hazel's care team started introducing the two cubs to each other. The two quickly became friends!
Holly and Hazel moved from the vet hospital up to our "head start" addition to the mountain lion habitat on February 25th, and we sent this magnificent pair of cubs off to their forever home, Big Bear Alpine Zoo in Southern California, on May 3.
Learn more about Holly and Hazel here!