OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A young mountain lion that was rushed to the Oakland Zoo after being shot by police when being corralled in a Northern California residential neighborhood died during emergency surgery, officials said Monday.
A resident of Hollister in San Benito County spotted the male lion on their front porch just before 5 a.m. Friday and called police, the Hollister Police Department said.
Officers requested assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who dispatched two wildlife officers to the scene, police said.
Ken Paglia, a spokesman with the CDFW, said the mountain lion, estimated to be about a year old, was not acting aggressively and was not considered a threat. He said that wildlife officers tried to tranquilize the big cat to assess him and return him to his habitat.
But when they fired a tranquilizer, the mountain lion was startled and jumped out of a bush, Paglia said.
The Hollister Police Department said the mountain lion lunged from the bush toward a police officer.
“Fearing for the life and safety of the officer, two officers fired their rifles at the mountain lion,” it said.
The wounded mountain lion jumped over a fence and it was then that wildlife officers were able to tranquilize the animal and took him to the Oakland Zoo for emergency surgery, Paglia said.
In a social media post informing the public of the mountain lion’s death, the zoo said it was the 20th mountain lion to go to the Oakland Zoo in need of help in less than five years.
The zoo’s post led to a social media post over the weekend by the Hollister Police Department saying the zoo was characterizing their actions “as having been reckless and impatient and none of that is true.”
“We regret that they have yet to retract, correct, and amend their statement. Words matter,” the department added.
The Oakland Zoo said in a statement its post reflected the facts as told to them by the CDFW.
“As a zoo focused on wildlife conservation and education, our message and focus in sharing news of this tragedy was to educate the public about the growing issues around human-wildlife conflict, and nothing more,” the zoo said.