By Fiona Jackson via SWNS
An orphaned mountain lion cub who was rescued by hikers is living a life of luxury at a zoo - with her own special back scratcher.
Five-month-old Rose was found 21 lb underweight and wandering around a park in San Mateo, California by walkers, who reported her to wildlife authorities.
After a painstaking five-day hunt, wildlife biologists and game wardens tracked her down and took her to Oakland Zoo for medical treatment.
Now she has gained over 4 lb and gets regular back scratches from her doting keepers to help her make a full recovery.
Dr. Alex Herman, VP of veterinary services at Oakland Zoo, said: "We can already tell she has a feisty spirit and an obvious will to live, and we’re thankful for that.”
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologist Garrett Allen said: “We appreciate the hiker and the team at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District who alerted us to the mountain lion cub and its condition.
"The Santa Cruz Mountains provide good habitat for mountain lions, but it’s rare to see a mountain lion because they’re elusive creatures.
"If you see a mountain lion, do not approach it. Adult animals, when out hunting prey, may leave offspring somewhere safe for up to days at a time.
"Seeing a young animal by itself does not indicate that it is an orphan and intervention is appropriate.”
On April 5, a group of hikers saw a severely emaciated lion cub roaming the Thornewood Open Space Preserve alone, and reported the sighting to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
District game wardens and biologists from the CDFW setup cameras and patrolled the area daily to find her.
Four days later, the cub was spotted again on a camera but, by the time the wildlife biologists from both agencies arrived and searched, she had disappeared.
Finally, at about 3 P.M. the following day, Rose was located and taken to Oakland Zoo by two biologists, Garrett Allen and Megan Senour, where a team of veterinarians were standing by to assess and treat her.
She was dehydrated and starving, weighing only around 8.8 lb, when a typical female mountain lion cub of her age should have been around 30 lb.
The poor cub was also covered in fleas and ticks, and initial blood tests revealed she had a low red blood cell count.
Dr. Alex Herman said: “Based on her initial exam, it appears she hasn’t eaten in weeks. She is excruciatingly thin.
"To survive, her body resorted to consuming its own muscle mass.
"She is also suffering from extreme dehydration, and her temperature was so low it couldn’t even be read.
"But she survived her first night, which was critical.
Rose received round the clock care from her dedicated vets, who gave her fluids and hydration intravenously and bottle fed her small amounts of formula.
She received a blood transfusion to treat her anaemia, using 150 ml of blood drawn from the zoo's resident mountain lion Silverado.
Now, two-and-a-half weeks after her rescue, she is eating meat five times a day and weighs over 12 lb.
It is hoped she will be able to move out of the ICU, where she currently gets her back scratched by her keepers, very soon.
Her mother nor any siblings still have not been located by wildlife authorities, confirming that she is indeed an orphan.
Rose will unfortunately not be able to be released back into the wild after her complete recovery in a few months time, as mountain lion cubs learn to hunt and survive from their mother in their first two years of life.
As there is not currently enough space for her at Oakland Zoo, she will likely be rehabilitated at another Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo.
Rose is the eighteenth orphaned mountain lion cub Oakland Zoo has received and rehabilitated from the CDFW since 2017.
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