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Janitor corrals curious cougar in empty California classroom

The "lost and scared" cougar cub is being treated at a California zoo.
Credit: AP
In this photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, is a mountain lion after it entered an empty high school classroom in Pescadero, Calif., Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (Javier Acosta/San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

PESCADERO, Calif. — A quick-thinking custodian safely confined a curious cougar in an empty classroom after it entered a Northern California high school Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The custodian was opening Pescadero High for the school day when the cub was spotted, said Detective Javier Acosta with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. No students or teachers were on campus at the time, Acosta said.

“The mountain lion casually walked through campus and decided to go into an English classroom,” he said. “The custodian acted quickly and managed to shut the door behind it.”

Acosta said the animal, estimated to be about 40 pounds, appeared “lost and scared."

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife tranquilized the cat and sent it to the Oakland Zoo for examination.

The zoo estimated the male cat's age at 6 to 8 months. It said the cub is too young to survive in the wild and has a badly fractured tooth that will need extraction. He will eventually be placed at an accredited zoo.

"Our newest hospital patient, the mountain lion cub rescued from a Pescadero school, was active and mobile over his first night," the Oakland Zoo said on Facebook Thursday, sharing a video of the cat. "He is now in the hospital ward and we have offered him an expansion into an enriched (logs, hay, etc) outside stall to make him more comfortable."

Our newest hospital patient, the mountain lion cub rescued from a Pescadero school, was active and mobile over his first...

Posted by Oakland Zoo on Thursday, June 2, 2022

The zoo's hospital is also the temporary home to a rescued female cougar cub named Rose. The zoo said the cubs are in separate stalls, but zookeepers are watching the pair to decide if they should interact. 

Pescadero is a small coastal community about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, cougars — also known as mountain lions — generally weigh between 115 and 220 pounds as adult males. They can live in a wide range of ecosystems in the Americas, but their territorial nature leads them to have sparse population densities.

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