On Tuesday morning, December 20, 2011, residents in Burbank were surprised to find two emaciated and flea-bitten three-month-old female cubs hiding under a car on Orange Grove Avenue.
They apparently had a few rough weeks, separated from their mother who was either killed or somehow trapped and unable to tend to her cubs back in the den.
At three months old they're too young to fend for themselves, but in desperation, they ventured out in search of food. The pair were picked up by animal control officers and taken to the Burbank Animal Shelter and Department of Fish and Game wardens were called. They were initially thought to be bobcats, but shelter officials determined they were actually mountain lions. In the early afternoon, the animals were transported to California Wildlife Center, which is licensed to handle mountain lions.
They immediately received medical care and nutrition; they were only 10 pounds each - half of what they should weigh. But they were not happy about being stuck in captivity. The feistier of the two cubs — now called #2 (of #1 and #2) — had been hissing at journalists coming to report on a feel-good story.
"They're scared," California Wildlife Center Executive Director Cindy Reyes told the Daily News. "They're doing a lot of hissing and swatting. That's good in that they're being responsive, but bad because it is stressful being in a captive environment."
The cubs cannot be released to the wild. "They require a lot of care to get them back to the state they physically need to be in, and during that process, there's always the possibility that they could become habituated to people," Reyes said. "If you raise a mountain lion in captivity and then you release it, it could potentially be dangerous at some point."
Instead, their new home will be at an educational and long-term wildlife rescue center called “Zoo to You” in Paso Robles. Reyes said the cubs were getting stronger and would be well enough to travel after their ordeal.
You can read the complete story in the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News articles as well as view the TV news coverage on ABC-7, CBS/KCAL, KTLA and a follow-up interview with CWC's Executive Director, Cindy Reyes, on NBC.
On this website, you can also read about how to coexist with large predators, including Mountain Lions.