A mountain lion with a thirst for knowledge kicked up a bit of a fuss for a California high school on June 1 after it wandered into the building and hid beneath a desk. The learned young lion has since been removed and nobody, including the animal, was harmed.
Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are large cats native to North and South America which are specially protected in California. They’re also known as pumas, cougars, or panthers, and aren’t an uncommon sight in the state though they can be a slightly hair-raising one (as this anxiety-inducing video of one man's six-minute encounter with an angry momma mountain lion demonstrates).
Staff at Pescadero High School were understandably a little concerned, then, when on Wednesday morning as they were due to open, a juvenile lion was seen on the school’s grounds. Acknowledging that a mountain lion wasn't exactly conducive to learning, they contacted the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office at 8.23 am after shutting the animal inside an English classroom.
“There is currently a mountain lion that entered the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District grounds,” tweeted the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. “[The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service] has been notified for safe and humane removal.”
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife were on school grounds by 9.30am and got to work “formulating a plan,” said the Sheriff’s office, to get the animal out of the school and back into the wild.
Efforts to let the young mountain lion leave of its own accord were, however, unsuccessful, and The Independent reports that as it refused to give up the classroom the lion looked “lost and scared”. The mountain lion certainly looked less than eager to learn in photographs taken at the school which show it curled up beneath a desk.
Eventually, they were able to safely remove the lion, who’s thought to be around four to six months old and a male. He’s now on his way to Oakland Zoo for a health assessment with a goal to getting him back out in the wild and, ideally, a considerable distance from any schools.
The sheriff's office later gave this stirring summary of the day's events:
"Word is that the mountain lion who entered the English classroom at Pescadero High School this meowrning was there to a-paw-logize and paw-sibly ask for a paw-don to turn in its hiss-tory pay-purr a day late. Staff at the school tell us that the entry to the school was a very claw-ver way to ask for an extension on the assignment and the request has been denied."
[H/T: The Independent]