Orphaned mountain lion cubs from Orange County join Oakland Zoo

By KATHLEEN KIRKWOOD

OAKLAND — The Oakland Zoo is caring for two orphaned mountain lion cubs that were found in Orange County two weeks apart and veterinarians will test to determine if they are siblings, zoo officials said Wednesday.

The cubs, both males about 3 to 4 months old, weigh close to 30 pounds. Officials believe they may have been orphaned after an adult female mountain lion was struck and killed by a motorist in the area where they were found, officials said.

They were found about 15 miles apart in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon and Rancho Santa Margarita. The first was discovered in a resident’s backyard and the second, approximately two weeks later, on a roadside.

The second male cub arrived at Oakland Zoo on Monday and is “feisty” and doing very well, officials said. His counterpart is more shy and cautious. Mountain lions are new to Oakland Zoo, and officials said the two cubs will serve as educational ambassadors at Oakland Zoo’s upcoming 56-acre California Trail expansion, opening in June 2018.

“It is an honor to provide a forever home for these young mountain lions, and honor their lives further by working to help conserve their wild counterparts,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo. “We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve pumas, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock.”

The cubs were initially cared for by the Feline Conservation Center in Lake Forest before being brought to Oakland Zoo, where they are currently under quarantine and being cared for by the zoo’s veterinarians.

The Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, in partnership with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help save mountain lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict with the CDFW.

The mountain lion habitat in the Zoo’s expansion site is intended to mimic California habitat, educate visitors about wildlife in California and inspire people to take action for the future of the state’s wildlife and resources. The habitat is currently under construction and is expected to be complete and ready for the cubs by February or March.

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Zoofari celebration supports animal care

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Rosie the snake, an armadillo, a spectacled owl and a French rooster welcomed 300 guests to the Santa Ana Zoo’s 25th annual gala. Hosted by the Friends of Santa Ana Zoo, the Zoofari dinner and fundraiser on Aug. 27 celebrated the zoo’s dedication to animal conservation.

“Zoofari has grown from a dedicated group of Zoo supporters who gathered to enjoy a festive evening to celebrate all that the Santa Ana Zoo has to offer,” said Cathi Decker, executive director of FOSAZ.

Best known for its large collection of monkeys, the Santa Ana Zoo opened 65 years ago. The reason for the zoo’s monkey menagerie: The land was donated under a provision that requires the zoo to house at least 50 monkeys. Thus, monkeys have been a huge inspiration for much of the zoo’s development – which now includes a soon-to-open Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel.

Zoofari gala guests had an opportunity to tour the zoo, which was decorated with purple, black and silver flourishes, and see the area where a giant river otter habitat is planned.

The gala’s live and silent auctions raised $100,000.

“It means so much, especially raising the funds needed for all the special projects and improvements going on here,” Decker said.

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