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Rescued mountain lion cub at Oakland Zoo will not return to wild

Holly, a rescued mountain lion club, is recovering at the Oakland Zoo. | Courtesy photo

An emaciated—and absolutely adorable—mountain lion cub discovered under a Santa Cruz deck is making a steady recovery at the Oakland Zoo but will not return to the wild. 

The cub, named Holly in honor of the holidays, was treated at the zoo with fluids and medications after being brought in by the Department of Fish and Wildlife on Dec. 19, according to Bay City News

“She’s doing really well,” said zoo spokesperson Erin Dogan. “She’s eating on her own and playing at night.” 

Zoo staff observe her around the clock via a night camera, according to Dogan, who said she will be released to a different zoo or sanctuary in the coming weeks—it wouldn’t be safe to keep her at the Oakland Zoo given its existing mountain lion residents. 

“A lion cub learns from their mother for the first two years how to survive,” Dogan said. “She would not be able to assimilate to the adult population here.” 

The Oakland Zoo is experienced in handling such recoveries and releases—it’s the 22nd mountain lion cub the facility has received in the past five years, according to Dogan.