CAL FIRE FFs rescue mountain lion cub burned during wildfire

The cub is now recovering at the Oakland Zoo after being burned during the 56,000-acre Zogg Fire

Vincent Moleski
The Sacramento Bee

OAKLAND, Calif. — A Shasta County mountain lion cub rescued by firefighters who found him injured in the Zogg Fire on Wednesday is now recovering at the Oakland Zoo.

In a news release, zoo officials said that Cal Fire personnel found the orphaned cub suffering from severe burns near the 56,000-acre fire, located southwest of Redding. Cal Fire reached out to local law enforcement agencies, eventually transferring the cub from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to the Oakland Zoo for treatment.

The cub was driven Wednesday from Redding by CDFW officials to the zoo, and he was given immediate medical attention. The cub, which has been named Captain Cal after Cal Fire’s feline mascot, will be placed in a permanent facility after fully recovering at the zoo.

Zoo officials said the cub is very young and weighs just 3.75 pounds, and was burned badly on his paws. The animal also had singed whiskers and suffered eye irritation.

Captain Cal was given antibiotics and pain medication, injected with fluids and fed with kitten formula, which officials said he is taking well. Preliminary analysis suggests no damage to his bones or lungs, despite severe burns on soft tissue, according to zoo officials.

“We’re grateful to be part of this amazing little cub’s rescue and rehabilitation,” Oakland Zoo veterinary hospital director Dr. Alex Herman said in a prepared statement. “In the past two years, this marks our thirteenth mountain lion cub rescue for Oakland Zoo in partnership with CDFW. We’re cautiously optimistic that this cub will now survive and thrive, our dedicated team at Oakland Zoo is fully committed to do everything we can for him and for his beautiful species.”

Zoo officials said that mountain lion cubs generally stay with their mothers for two years, learning how to survive in the wild. This cub is estimated to be between 4 and 6 weeks old, meaning he will not be able to be released to survive on his own and will remain in captivity.

“Unfortunately, a lion this size is too small to be released back into the wild, but we are hopeful that under the zoo’s care, it will get a second chance as an ambassador for its species,” CDFW senior wildlife veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford said in a prepared statement. “California’s wildfires are erupting on a scale that we’ve never seen before, and we expect that we’ll have more burn patients than we have the capacity to treat in our own veterinary facility.”


©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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