Mountain lion released to the wild after causing stir at Irvine shopping plaza

IRVINE, Calif. -- A mountain lion that caused a big stir at an Irvine shopping center is now back in the wild.

The big cat was released in a canyon Wednesday and happily took off running.

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A mountain lion was tranquilized after entering a business at a shopping plaza in Irvine.



On Tuesday, he was sedated and taken to Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital to be evaluated and treated.

"We are not lion, we had a purr-ty scary situation on our paws today," the Irvine Police Department said in a statement Tuesday. "IPD received reports of a mountain lion in the area of Sand Canyon and Irvine Center Drive. As our claw-enforcement officers arrived, the lion ran towards the shopping center nearly causing a fur-enzy as it is uncommon for a mountain lion to be seen in Irvine.

"Thankfully our officers are not scaredy cats and purr-sued the big kitty into a business area. We backed off and gave the two-year-old male some space while we gathered more resources."

Vets say the mountain lion is a healthy two-year-old male, which is usually the age they leave their mother and set out on their own.

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In this case, he was likely looking for his own space and took a wrong turn into the business area.

"I've been doing this for way over 30 years and I've never had this opportunity to help out and do something in such a unique situation," Dr. Scott Weldy of Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital said. "So, it was a lot of fun and everything went smooth."

The big cat has now been tagged and given a collar so he can be tracked.

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