California Zoo Calls Out Police Officers Who Shot Mountain Lion in Self-Defense

by Jonathan Howard

After police shot and killed a mountain lion during a relocation attempt, the Oakland Zoo is speaking out against law enforcement’s actions. The outdoors news came out late last month. This has started a bit of a spat among the two organizations. Police say that they were reacting in self-defense, but the zoo is concerned that this is part of a larger issue.

Mountain Lion Shot by Police

California Department of Fish and Wildlife was called to a neighborhood in San Benito County. From there, CDFW decided that this animal was likely a threat to the residential area. This is considered on a case-by-case basis and there is no rigid definition for what makes an animal a safety risk.

As CDFW made their way into the area, they had law enforcement’s help. Police were present when the animal allegedly lunged at officers. That is when they fired. Wildlife officials tried to tranquilize the animal but were unable to at first. That led to the incident with the police.

The big cat was shot at least once in the torso after being fired upon multiple times. The Oakland Zoo is where the animal was taken for surgery after it was tranquilized following the shooting. Afterward, the zoo took to social media with a video treating the animal. They also had some words for law enforcement and their actions.

Zoo Pops Off Online at Police

It was last week, at the end of August when this ordeal happened. The mountain lion was declared dead at the zoo after a medical team tried to save its life. There is some bad blood between the Oakland Zoo and Hollister Police Department now.

“The lion had been spotted in the residential neighborhood of San Benito County, and while trying to safely capture him, he was shot by local PD while CDFW was attempting to dart him with a tranquilizer.”

The post went on. “We were hopeful to share good news in this post, as our vet team did everything they could to save him, but learned just minutes ago that he passed during emergency surgery. This is the 20th mountain lion to come to Oakland Zoo in need of help as another victim of human-wildlife conflict, and we are heartbroken with the tragic loss.”

The local police took exception to the post. Calling out the zoo in their own social media posting. However, that didn’t stop the zoo from doubling down on its response to the incident, saying “our post stated the facts as reported to us by our partners.”

According to the CDFW “Mountain lion attacks on humans are uncommon. Under the CDFW’s Public Safety Wildlife Guidelines, an animal is deemed to be a public safety threat if there is a livelihood of human injury based on the totality of the circumstances.”

There isn’t much else that can be done here. Hopefully, these two agencies can work together in the future. It seems that the area is reliant upon all of these officials to assist in wildlife emergencies.