Wandering mountain lion may have killed 3 San Francisco Zoo marsupials

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- New video shows a Bay Area mountain lion being released back into the wild near Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County Thursday.

24 hours later, it was revealed that the 15-month-old cat might have killed three marsupials at the San Francisco Zoo.

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"We did not hear about these killings before the mountain lion was released," said Ken Paglia, a spokesperson for California's Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Whether or not he still would have been released, I don't know that answer.... If we would have known, of course that would have been a huge part of the decision making process," said Paglia.

The 68 pound male cat was spotted all over San Francisco this week, including by our ABC7 security cameras, as he walked through the KGO parking lot next to the Embarcadero early Tuesday morning.

On Friday, San Francisco Zoo officials confirmed that earlier in the week, two wallaroos and a red kangaroo were found dead in their outdoor exhibit.

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In a statement, the zoo said, "findings suggest that a local wild carnivore is responsible. Following the incident, the Zoo immediately took steps to prevent any further loss. With the unusual siting and capture of a young mountain lion in San Francisco this week, the Zoo is investigating whether this could be the perpetrator."

Red kangaroos weigh between 80 and 200 pounds.

"They'll kill it and not necessarily eat it," said Zara McDonald, a biologist with the Bay Area Puma Project. "We call it surplus killing. That usually happens when there's an abundance of prey that's sort of trapped in an enclosure that the predator can easily access."
McDonald is concerned that the cat wandered so far from its Peninsula habitat, through San Francisco, "They don't want to be around people, or traffic, or noise, that's not their life."

She was worried when the cat was found near Oracle Park in Mission Bay, where it was captured with nets Thursday morning.

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"My heart sank in that moment because I was worried that cat was going to need intervention and that's the way it ended up."

The cat was taken to the Oakland Zoo to be examined on Thursday. Vets gave the cat fluids and vitamins, and tagged and collared him, before he was crated and released.

"The important thing for all of us to remember is that these are magnificent animals that we want to keep in the wild and in order to do that, we need to find ways to coexist with them," said Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research at the Oakland Zoo.

Fish and wildlife will do a DNA analysis of scat found in the marsupial enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and compare it to samples taken of the mountain lion's fur.
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