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Orphan mountain lion cubs brought to Oakland Zoo


Both kittens were found underweight but display no signs of extreme illness currently

Oakland Zoo announced yesterday that 2 orphaned female mountain lion siblings, approximately 6 to 10 weeks old, were rescued and transported to the zoo by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Photo courtesy of Oakland Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Oakland Zoo.

According to an organizational release,1 the search for these kittens began yesterday morning as their mother was suspected by the CDFW to be hit and killed by a car along Highway 280, near the Hillsboro/Burlingame area. Throughout the weekend, residents reported that the 2 cubs were spotted in the area and were found safe in one of the residents’ backyard.

When the cubs arrived at Oakland Zoo, the veterinary hospital staff performed an examination consisting of virus testing, parasite treatment, and bloodwork. Vital fluids were administered to the evidently dehydrated kittens. At just 5 and 5 ½ lbs, respectively, the kittens are underweight but display no signs of extreme illness.1 The veterinary staff are waiting for laboratory results to identify if the cubs are anemic and will need blood transfusions.

“Our team will be caring for the cubs daily to restore them to full health and for their overall animal wellbeing,” said Alex Herman, DVM, Oakland Zoo vice president of veterinary services.1

According to the zoo, orphaned kittens remain for about 8 days in the zoo’s ICU. When they are cleared, they are moved to a holding area at the zoo’s veterinary hospital for weeks or months until CDFW determines an appropriate home for the cubs. In the wild, mountain lion cubs need about 2 years with their mother to learn survival skills.

"These cubs became orphans when their mother was struck by a car on a busy highway, a tragedy suffered by wildlife when safe passage across their natural territories isn't possible. We support and advocate for more wildlife crossings, such as the one opened in Santa Cruz earlier this year on Highway 17," said Nik Dehejia, Oakland Zoo CEO.1

These cubs signify the 25th and 26th mountain lion rescues, as part of the Zoo’s Rescue and Recovery Program for local wildlife in need.1


Oakland Zoo receives two orphan mountain lion cubs. News release. Oakland Zoo. November 14, 2023. Accessed November 15, 2023. https://www.oaklandzoo.org/news/cubs-found-in-burlingame

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