A high school janitor in Northern California got a lot more than he was expecting when he opened the doors on Wednesday, June 1. According to Detective Javier Acosta, an agent with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the custodian spotted what appeared to be a mountain lion.
Thinking on his feet, the janitor secluded the young lion in an empty classroom. There were no students, teachers, or administration there at the time. “(The lion) casually walked through campus, and decided to go into an English classroom,” Acosta told the Associated Press. “The custodian acted quickly, shutting the door behind the animal.” The juvenile lion, estimated to weigh approximately 40 pounds, seemed to be understandably “scared and lost,” which it most definitely was.
Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) successfully sedated the lion and relocated the cat to the Oakland Zoo. Upon examination, the cougar, a young tom (male) estimated to be four to six months old, was found to be suffering from a fractured tooth, which will be removed he’s returned to the wild, according to KTVU-TV out of Oakland.
According to the CDFW, there are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions currently calling The Golden State home. Those numbers, however, are open for debate on several fronts.
“Regardless of what you hear, we don’t know how many (lions) there are in California,” Justin Dellinger, a senior environmental scientist with the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (CDFW), told The San Luis Obispo Tribune during an interview in 2019. “If you don’t know how much of something there is, you don’t know its status. And you don’t know what you need to do to protect them.”