Rescued Mountain Lion Cubs at Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo is committed to providing state-of-the-art veterinary care for sick, injured, and orphaned wild mountain lions. Learn more here.

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About our Mountain Lion Rescue program

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.

About our most recent Lion Cub Rescues: Maple and Willow

On November 14, 2023, two young mountain lion sisters, estimated between 6-10 weeks old, were found wandering near the city of Burlingame. Sadly, their mother had been hit and killed by a vehicle nearby. The orphaned cubs were picked up by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and brought to Oakland Zoo’s veterinary hospital for rehabilitation.

The cubs were given full examinations, and treated for parasites and viruses. The following day, our mountain lion rescue team named the sisters -- Maple and Willow. Over the following weeks, we worked diligently to improve the sisters’ health, motor skills, and ease around people.

Like most of the rescued pumas brought to us, these two were sadly orphaned at a young age and did not learn the skills necessary to survive in the wild. They were initially provided with a temporary home in our hospital, but in mid-January, this dynamic duo moved to the mountain lion cub “head start” habitat next to our adult mountain lions in our California Trail area.

Until the California Department of Fish and Wildlife finds this pair a "furrever home," we will continue to give them lots of love and support in growing here at Oakland Zoo!

Maple and Willow arriving to Oakland Zoo's vet hospital, 11/14/23

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