PHOTO: This young mountain lion, possibly orphaned, was found huddled into a Pescadero classroom Wednesday.
There’s not really a protocol for cougars in classrooms, but this San Mateo County incident was thankfully a best case scenario. As much as a mountain lion inside a school can be, anyway.
According to county officials, the cub must’ve wandered into the California high school early Wednesday morning. When authorities got the call, a school custodian was in the process of sequestering the young cougar inside the classroom it was found in.
How the cougar cub made its way inside Pescadero High School in San Mateo County remains a mystery. But the Oakland Zoo, which is now caring for the cub, estimates the curious little male is just 6 to 8 months old. The cub’s age and peculiar behavior likely points to him being an orphan. And with a face like this, it’s hard not to sympathize with the little one:
Thankfully, “No students or staff were ever in danger as the school was not in session yet,” a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson offers via NBC News.
It was a close call, however, as the cub was discovered just before 8:30 AM, the spokesperson adds. But custodial staff was able to spot the mountain lion before any students arrived for the day.
Found Mountain Lion Cub ‘Far Too Young to Survive Alone’
Pescadero is a small community near the coast around 30 miles west of San Jose. And like many areas of California, the locals are no strangers to cougars. So at first, officials tried to “let it out on its own,” the Sheriff’s Office says. But the cub was in no hurry to leave. “Lost and scared” is how the office’s spokesperson describes the little lion.
Instead, the classroom was shut down, and the cougar tranquilized for safe removal. He was then transported to the Oakland Zoo, where his rehabilitation journey begins. Students and staff also went home for the day as a precaution. This is important for one big reason: if the cub wasn’t an orphan, then momma mountain lion would’ve been close by. And it is always “better safe than sorry” when it comes to the species.
The male cub is far too young to survive alone. Mountain lions are weaned over a two year period under their mother’s care. A search for an adult female in the area proved unsuccessful, so Oakland Zoo is stepping in.
For the time being, Oakland will care for the cub. Then, the “underweight but otherwise healthy” youngster will find a forever home through a zoo’s rehabilitation program.