In 2013, we launched the Bay Area Cougar Action Team or BACAT, our local mountain lion alliance, which has helped treat 17 mountain lions for illness and injury.
Native to the Americas, mountain lions have the largest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from Canada to the southern tip of Chile. In California, mountain lions can be found wherever deer are present, including forests, wetlands, grassy valleys and sometimes, in areas where people live. Mountain lions (also known as pumas, catamounts or panthers) have an important role in the ecosystem and primarily keep to themselves, but when humans and mountain lions overlap, conflict can occur. We must learn to share our habitat with this beautiful animal, our own native cat. Oakland Zoo has made a bold commitment to the conservation of mountain lions, one that utilizes our full breadth of resources, and engages conservation actions within our community. We envision a future where humans and pumas coexist and thrive.
Mountain lion habitat is increasingly fragmented. New communities cut into mountain lion territory, causing crucial movement corridors to become blocked by highways and buildings. Mountain lions need large territories to succeed, so addressing compromised ecosystems is vital to their survival. Like many other wild animals in California, mountain lions also increasingly face the threat of habitat loss, injury or death due to wildfires.
With encroachment and a spreading human population, mountain lions face the danger of being killed by cars much too often. When a mother mountain lion is killed in a car strike, it is likely her cubs will not survive because they rely on her for food and guidance. Illegal hunting and hunting with depredation permits (issued when livestock or pets are attacked) also impact the mountain lion population in California.
Like many California wild animals, mountain lions face the threat of wildfire due to climate change. Programs that address the rescue and care of injured and burned native wildlife are crucial.
In 2012, Oakland Zoo participated in a training on Human Wildlife Conflict Resolution that resulted in a groundbreaking alliance called BACAT (the Bay Area Cougar Action Team). BACAT is made up of multiple agencies, nonprofits, local parks, the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and mountain lion researchers. With shared messaging and a team mindset, BACAT aims to create a model support system that can be duplicated throughout California and beyond.
Oakland Zoo provides state-of-the-art wildlife veterinary care for sick, injured, burned, or orphaned wild mountain lions through a long-standing partnership with California Department of Fish and Wildlife. With wildfires and car strikes, the need to respond quickly is crucial. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to giving these cats the care they need at these critical times, until they can be released back into the wild in a safe place or, if release isn't possible, finding good forever homes for them.
Oakland Zoo, along with other partners, helped pass SB 132, a measure that allows various nonprofits and other individuals and organizations help the California Department of Fish and Wildlife address incidences of mountain lions in human populated areas.
Oakland Zoo partners with the Bay Area Puma Project to study hair snags to gain insight into the behavior and needs of our local pumas.
Oakland Zoo shares conservation issues facing mountain lions, as well as empowering solutions through Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education programs, events, exhibits, campaigns, and the media.
Our three resident mountain lions were all rescued and have found their forever home in Oakland Zoo’s large mountain lion habitat, filled with mature oak trees and a myriad of natural spaces to explore, climb, and lounge. All three were rescued as young cubs in various parts of California, likely orphaned due to car strike or depredation incidents. These beautiful cats now serve as ambassadors to their wild counterparts, inspiring a safer future for California’s mountain lions.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife manages and protects the state's wildlife, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, algae, and native ecosystems.
The Bay Area Puma Project provides research and insight into the local puma population enabling us to develop new conservation and land use strategies to minimize human-puma conflict, and foster a healthy co-existence in the region.
The Mountain Lion Foundation encourages citizens nationwide to act with mountain lions in mind by inspiring people to take action to preserve habitats, developing and implementing practical solutions to conflict problems, and promoting lion research.
Report a sick, orphaned, or injured mountain lion in California