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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