Two badly malnourished mountain lion cubs discovered under a car in Burbank are expected to be transported today to a long-term wildlife facility in Paso Robles.
The emaciated and flea-bitten three-month-old female cubs were found Tuesday morning by residents - one of whom tried to shoo them away with a broom, according to Burbank police.
On Wednesday, the lions were being cared for at the California Wildlife Center in a wooded area of Calabasas. The two were being held next to each other in separate dog carriers, which were covered with blankets to minimize interaction with humans.
"They're going to hopefully live happy mountain lion lives but in a facility somewhere," said state Department of Fish and Game
spokesman Andrew Hughan. "They're not good candidates to be released because of all the (human) contact, and they haven't been trained to hunt and gather food themselves yet."Their appearance in a suburban area of Burbank about a mile from the Verdugo Mountains is fairly unusual.
It's even more rare for animal control officers to respond and handle the mountain lions, Hughan said.
"We make every effort to get out there first, because once it's been habituated, it can be detrimental to the animal and very difficult to relocate back into the wild," he added.
Wildlife biologists believe the pair's mother was either killed or somehow trapped and unable to tend to her cubs. The chance of finding the mother is "infinitesimal," and a search won't be attempted, Hughan said.
It wasn't clear how long it had been since the neglected cubs had eaten, but California Wildlife Center Executive Director Cindy Reyes said they were about half the weight they should be for their age, which was determined based on their tooth size.
For now, they were being called No. 1, the sicker of the pair, and No. 2, the fiercer.
The 10-pound cubs had a feisty reaction to center staff and visiting
journalists. Their ears lay flat in fear and they backed into the corners of their carriers, hissing."They're scared," Reyes said. "They're doing a lot of hissing and swatting. That's good in that they're being responsive, but bad because it is stressful being in a captive environment."
Slightly larger than house cats, the cubs are covered in still-fluffy tawny fur and have dark-blue eyes that will turn gold as they age. Their paws are outsize like those of puppies.
Reyes said the baby pumas are heading to Zoo to You, a long-term wildlife rescue center in Paso Robles. Reyes said the cubs were getting stronger and would be well enough to travel after their ordeal.
They were initially spotted Tuesday under a car in the 600 block of East Orange Grove Avenue, a few blocks from downtown Burbank, police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said. Residents had gathered and some were trying to force the animals to move on, Ryburn said.
"They were so cute, but they were so afraid," Ryburn said of the pumas.
The pair were picked up by animal control officers and taken to the Burbank Animal Shelter, and Department of Fish and Game wardens were called. They were initially thought to be bobcats, but shelter officials determined they were actually mountain lions.
In the early afternoon, the animals were transported to the Calabasas facility, which is licensed to handle mountain lions.
Hughan said the department responds about once a year to calls about abandoned mountain lion cubs. He said residents should call 911 if cubs are spotted in an urbanized area, or if full-grown pumas are seen and thought to be a threat. Do not try to interact with the animals, he said.
The Department of Fish and Game estimates a population of 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California. Though they're considered a "specially protected species" and cannot be hunted, mountain lions are not threatened or endangered.