Captured Mountain Lion Doing Well at Tulsa Zoo

On Saturday April 24 at approximately 12:00 p.m. Tulsa Police Department received a call about a mountain lion in a tree in a north Tulsa residential area.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Animal Control, Tulsa Police Department and the Tulsa Zoo, including lead veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues and a team of zookeepers, responded.

Dr. Backues was able to successfully dart the female mountain lion. When the effects of the tranquilizer took effect, the mountain lion was relocated to the vet hospital quarantine area at the Tulsa Zoo where she is currently recovering.

The mountain lion is approximately 70 pounds and is a juvenile, approximately 1 to 2 years old.

Currently she is under observation by Tulsa Zoo vet staff. Arrangements are also being made to find the mountain lion a home at another accredited zoo or wildlife sanctuary.

The nearest source population for mountain lions is west Texas , NE New Mexico , or the Black Hills of South Dakota. Females typically have a home range of 25 to 50 square miles, while males have range of 75 to 200 square miles depending upon prey density. Young males have been known to range that far but no documentation of females ranging that far.

It is highly unusual for a wild mountain lion to be in a suburban area, since they are extremely shy of humans. Also, they do not use suburban areas to hunt deer and other prey are available to them in the wild.

“Mountain lions are typically shy of humans, prefer areas with little human activity, and tend to seek rough and rugged areas to live,” said Erik Bartholomew, Biologist at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, “this female mountain lion is not behaving in what I would call a typical manner.”

Within 7-10 days, the animal to will be examined for tags, tattoos, or signs that the animal was once captive. A sample will also be taken to assist in determining origin of animal. If it is indeed a captive animal based on the information from the exam or the test then, will work with Tulsa Zoo to determine the best location for it.

“We would like to thank the Tulsa Zoo for assisting in the capture of the animal, taking care of the animal, and for holding it until its origin can be determined,” said Bartholomew.

Updated 04-26-2011

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