On Tuesday morning residents in Burbank, California, noticed two wild kittens hiding under a parked car. Some people attempted to shoo the cats back into their natural habitat. With no luck, the county animal control officer was called, who believed they were orphaned bobcat kittens. The cats were captured and transported to the Burbank Animal Shelter, where staff determined these were actually malnourished mountain lion kittens who hadn't been fed in weeks. Weighing only five pounds, the three-month-old scrawny kittens were taken to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas which is permitted by the California Department of Fish & Game to care for rescued mountain lion kittens. Referred to, for the time being, as "Number 1" and "Number 2," the two kittens are doing well and improving in heath. They will soon be moved to a larger wildlife facility in Paso Robles.
Wildlife officials are unsure what happened to the mother lion, but thankfully the community stepped up and rescued these two orphans. The Wildlife Center has continued to receive phone calls and emails from concerned citizens who want to donate money to help these cats get the best possible care. Happy endings like this are wonderful to see, but unfortunately they are all too rare. Every year in the U.S., sport hunters orphan hundreds of mountain lion kittens, most of which are left in the woods to starve to death. While Californians banned the trophy hunting of lions in the state in 1990, over a hundred lions are still killed in California every year by poachers, road-kill, poison, and depredation. Some of these females leave behind dependent kittens whose survival must now rely on the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, wildlife rescue centers, and the compassion of concerned citizens.
If orphaned mountain lion kittens turned up in your neighborhood, what would you do?