A tiny mountain lion cub is fighting for her life at the Oakland Zoo in California, but she’s got an army of animal specialists fighting right next to her!
“Rose” was first spotted by hikers in the Thornewood Open Space Preserve in San Mateo. The cub appeared severely underweight and was covered in fleas and ticks. Worst yet, there was no mother in sight.
While it’s not unusual for mama mountain lions to leave their cubs unattended for a few days while they go out hunting, it was clear that this baby was not being cared for at all. The hikers called authorities, who immediately sent out crews to try to locate the cub.
Several wildlife groups joined the search, and after four or five days their cameras and daily patrols paid off. The cub was captured and brought to Oakland Zoo, where the veterinary team was waiting for her.
Rose weighed just 8.8 pounds, whereas a healthy cub her age should weigh about 30.
“Based on her initial exam, it appears she hasn’t eaten in weeks,” stated Dr. Alex Herman, Vice President of Veterinary Services at Oakland Zoo. “She is excruciatingly thin. To survive, her body resorted to consuming its own muscle mass.”
Dr. Herman added, “She is also suffering from extreme dehydration, and her temperature was so low it couldn’t even be read. But she survived her first night, which was critical. We can already tell she has a feisty spirit and an obvious will to live, and we’re thankful for that.”
With round-the-clock care, Rose slowly began to make strides. When her blood tests showed she had a dangerously low red blood cell count, she received a blood transfusion from Silverado, a previously-rescued healthy adult mountain lion who also lives at the zoo.
“We appreciate the hiker and the team at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District who alerted us to the mountain lion cub and its condition,” CDFW Biologist Garret Allen said. “The Santa Cruz Mountains provide good habitat for mountain lions, but it’s rare to see a mountain lion because they’re elusive creatures. If you see a mountain lion, do not approach it.”
Rose will spend the next several months recovering. In the wild, cubs normally spend about 2 years with their mothers to learn how to survive in the wild. Without the benefit of a mama, Rose will become a permanent resident in another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoo. With a little luck, she might even get to stay at Oakland with the people who saved her!
Watching videos of these dedicated animal workers helping Rose reminds us how lucky we are to have animal rescuers, veterinarians, and even attentive hikers who care about animals.
Watch the video below to see Rose having some food during her recovery, and don’t forget to share.
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