A mountain lion cub recently caught roaming the streets of San Francisco could be the culprit behind a trio of unexplained animal killings at the San Francisco Zoo, officials say.
At around 12:30 am I spotted a mountain lion roaming the streets of Russian Hill. I followed from inside my car and lost visual contact near intersection of Greenwich and Jones. Be safe when walking alone at night or when walking your pets. I reported the sighting to @SFPD pic.twitter.com/xlreghRSaJ
— Fernando Robles (@Ing_Fehr) June 16, 2020
A kangaroo and two wallaroos were found dead in their outdoor enclosure last week, according to San Francisco Gate, and a young mountain lion rounded up Thursday near Oracle Park — home of the San Francisco Giants — is at the top of the suspect list.
The big cat is thought to be 14 to 15 months old, an age where it should still be traveling with its mother, and weighs in at 50 pounds. The animal is old enough and large enough to have killed the three marsupials, though “surplus killing,” meaning killing more than is necessary to feed, is an unusual behavior for cougars, an expert told SFGate.
“It’s not common, but there have been numerous instances over the years where we’ve had pumas go into enclosures with animals and kill tons of them, and maybe eat one,” Zara McDonald, a biologist with the Bay Area Puma Project, told the outlet.
After being captured, the adolescent predator was looked over by a veterinarian, collared and then released into the wild, KGO reported.
Zoo officials shared news of the killings Friday, prompted to investigate further after learning of the mountain lion’s existence.
“Findings suggest that a local wild carnivore is responsible,” zoo spokesperson Nancy Chan told KGO. “With the unusual sighting and capture of a young mountain lion in San Francisco this week, the Zoo is investigating whether this could be the perpetrator.”
Following a series of sightings, animal control eventually cornered the cat at an apartment complex, capturing it in a green space. No sedatives or tranquilizers were needed, an Animal Care and Control spokeswoman told The Mercury News.
“In 24 hours, it only moved a few blocks. The poor guy really needed some help,” Deb Campbell told the outlet.
Mountain lions come wandering into San Francisco about once a year, she said, but tend to hurry back out to the wild on their own and are not prone to lingering.
“It was looking in windows, looking at his reflection or something. Maybe he thought it was his mom or brother or sister,” Campbell said. “We never had a mountain lion right in the middle of downtown San Francisco.”