Rescued mountain lion cubs to live in animal sanctuary

Two emaciated mountain lion cubs rescued from the streets of Burbank on Tuesday will live out their days at an animal sanctuary.

The female cubs, believed to be between 2 and 3 months old, were not with their mother long enough to learn life skills, such as hunting, said Cindy Reyes, executive director at the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas where the cubs were briefly housed this week.

The cubs — which were days from starving to death when Burbank animal control officers rescued them from under a parked car after some residents tried hitting them with broomsticks to shoo the cats away — face many months of rehabilitation.

“When they came in they were very dehydrated as well and suffering from physical ailments — vomiting and that kind of thing,” Reyes said.

They are eating and drinking, but at 10 pounds each are about half the weight of healthy mountain lion cubs their age, Reyes said.

“Their behavior is good,” she said. “They are vastly improved from when they came in two days ago.”

The cubs are being treated for external and internal parasites, she added.

After they recover, the cubs — temporarily named No. 1 and No. 2 — will be too accustomed to human beings to survive on their own, Reyes said.

“You can’t take a grown-up mountain lion who is used to people and release him into the local mountains,” she said.

The cubs were transported Thursday afternoon to Zoo to You, a nonprofit conservation and education organization in Paso Robles, where they are to remain indefinitely.

Early training will include desensitizing them to human activity, lights and noise, said Director David Jackson. If appropriate, the lions may someday be tapped to promote wildlife conservation and education, including appearances at schools and universities.

“Right now they think we are big giant monkeys who are going to eat them,” Jackson said. “We have to teach them that is not the case. We are going to make them feel calm and comfortable.”

Zoo to You is accepting name suggestions from the public on the organization’s Facebook page, Jackson said.

It is difficult to determine how and why the animals ended up alone on a residential street in Burbank, Reyes said, but it is possible that the mother mountain lion was killed or chased away by a larger male.

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