A mountain lion who spent four months in rehabilitation was released back into the wild Monday in Rancho Santa Margarita.
The 6-month-old cub and her sister arrived at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center after their mother was hit by a car, leaving them orphaned near the Tijeras Creek Golf Course in Orange County, the Humane Society said in a news release Wednesday.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the cubs could not fend for themselves in Rancho Santa Margarita, which is what prompted them to request assistance. The first cub arrived at the Ramona Wildlife Center on Feb. 11, and her sister was transferred from Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital on May 1 after surgery.
The second cub had a left forearm fracture and needed surgical repair. She remains in the care of the Ramona Wildlife Center, where she is recovering.
The two mountain lions were housed in large compounds at the wildlife center, and human interaction was limited only to necessary veterinary exams and medical care in order to prevent imprinting, the Humane Society said.
Video released by the organization shows the mountain lion cautiously exiting its cage and then immediately running off into the wilderness. She appears to remain collared.
San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife team in Ramona is the first in the state to work under the direction of the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to rehab mountain lion cubs with the intention of releasing them back into the wild, according to the release.
“We are very excited to have been a part of this pilot program for mountain lion rehab in California, as typically rescued mountain lion kittens are routed for sanctuaries,” said Christine Barton, director of operations and wildlife rehabilitation at the center. “We hope these few months with us have provided her the extra time needed to fill the void left from losing her mother.”