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‘Critically ill’ mountain lion cub rescued, being cared for at Oakland Zoo

A mountain lion cub lies on its side, wrapped up in a towel, looking at camera.
Holly, a mountain lion cub who was rescued in Santa Cruz, is receiving care at the Oakland Zoo.
(Oakland Zoo)
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Veterinary staff at the Oakland Zoo and state wildlife officials are closely monitoring the condition of a female mountain lion cub who was found at a home in Santa Cruz.

The cub — named “Holly” for the holiday season — was critically ill when California Department of Fish and Wildlife brought her to the zoo Monday, officials said. She is estimated to be about 3 to 4 months old.

“After waiting to see if the cub’s mother would return (she didn’t) and based on the cub’s poor condition, they made the decision to bring the cub to us,” zoo officials said in a statement.

Veterinary staff treated the cub with fluids, vitamins, antinausea medication and antiparasitics, officials said.

Holly continued to received intensive care, zoo staff said. Her blood work showed slight improvement Tuesday but the cub wasn’t standing or moving around much.

It’s believed that Holly was orphaned, said Ken Paglia, a Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson. Residents of a home in Santa Cruz noticed the cub on their front porch. The cub walked by a pond on the property before moving back to the porch.

The residents took pictures of the cub and sent them to state wildlife officials, Paglia said. After reviewing the photos, department staff decided the cub was probably orphaned and it would not be wise to leave her out longer to see if her mother returned.

Department staff set up trail cameras meant to go off if the mother lion returns, but as of Wednesday evening the mother hadn’t been spotted, he said.

The mountain lion P-22, who lived in the heart of Los Angeles for more than a decade and became the face of an international campaign to save Southern California’s threatened pumas, was euthanized Saturday.

Dec. 17, 2022

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Dr. Lauren Pudenz, a veterinarian at the Oakland Zoo, told The Times on Wednesday that Holly’s condition was guarded but staff are cautiously optimistic that she’ll continue to recover.

“She’s showing some slow and gradual improvements for us,” Pudenz said.

Once she recovers, Holly won’t go back into the wild, Pudenz said. Orphaned cubs cannot learn the skills they need to survive from their mother, Pudenz said.

“Humans are not equipped to prepare these young cubs for survival,” she said.

Staff will work to acclimate Holly to life under managed care at an accredited zoo or sanctuary once she recovers, the veterinarian said.

Holly is the 22nd mountain lion that has been rescued and cared for at the Oakland Zoo, officials said.

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