Lost Innocence: California’s Lion Cubs Rescued After Mother’s Tragic Death in Car Collision, Finding Hope Amidst Heartbreak

Tiny Mountain Lion Twins Rescued, Taken To Oakland Zoo ICU

The cubs, named Willow and Maple, were left orphaned when their mother was killed on the highway.

OAKLAND, CA — Two orphaned mountain lion cubs were rescued on Tuesday and taken to the Oakland Zoo for emergency care. The twins, both girls, are believed to be 6-10 weeks old. They were given hydrating fluids, treated for parasites and fleas, and tested for viruses. Other than being dehydrated and underweight, they appear to be in relatively good health, according to Oakland Zoo vets.

“Our team will be caring for the cubs daily to restore them to full health and for their overall animal wellbeing,” said Dr. Alex Herman, Oakland Zoo’s Vice President of Veterinary Services.

The kittens are expected to spend another week in the Zoo’s ICU. Once cleared, they will be moved to a holding area at the Zoo’s Vet Hospital for weeks or months until the California Department of Fish & Wildlife identifies a proper home for the cubs.

“Because they are so young, these two lack the skills to survive in the wild,” the Zoo reported in a social media post. In the wild, mountain lion cubs need about two years with their mother to learn survival skills.

One kitten weighs 5 pounds while the sibling weighs 5.5 pounds.

The mother was killed by a car Saturday on Interstate Highway 280 on the Peninsula, in the Burlingame area. The cubs were spotted alone by several nearby residents. They were picked up in a backyard by Wildlife officers.

“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’s CEO.

These are the 25th and 26th rescued mountain lions treated at Oakland Zoo. It is part of an alliance that springs into action to assist distressed mountains.

“In 2012, the Oakland Zoo participated in a training session focused on resolving conflicts between humans and wildlife,” the Zoo said in a statement. “This training led to forming BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team).

The alliance brings together various agencies, non-profit organizations, local parks, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and mountain lion researchers. With a shared message and a team-based approach, BACAT aims to create a support system that serves as a model for other regions in California and beyond. Through BACAT, Oakland Zoo has already rescued and rehabilitated 24 mountain lions most of whom were victims of human-wildlife conflicts or wildfires.”


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