California cougar fails to adopt orphaned kittens

An National Park Service biologist and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist work to rescue a pair of orphaned mountain lion kittens. Credit: Beth Schaefer, Los Angeles Zoo

A pair of orphaned cougar kittens are in a sanctuary after biologists were unable to get a female cougar (Puma concolor) to foster them. California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists found the 3-week-old kittens in a den in the Simi Hills west of Los Angeles and soon discovered the dam was dead. A necropsy found she had evidence of intestinal disease and had been exposed to five anticoagulant rodenticides and another type of rodenticide.

Biologists hoped a mountain lion that had recently given birth in the Santa Monica Mountains would take two more into its litter. After a few days, though, the mountain lion moved its den and left the kittens behind. The kittens are now being raised at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Biologists believe this is the first time fostering has been attempted with mountain lions.

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