California Zoo Staff and City Police Exchange Words Over Shooting of Mountain Lion

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Two police officers fired their guns when the big cat charged

A war of words has ensued between California’s Oakland Zoo staff and officers with the Hollister Police Department who shot a wild mountain lion that was spotted on a porch in a populated neighborhood.

According to NBC Bay Area, the incident began the morning of Friday, Aug. 26, when California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers tried multiple times during a four-hour span to tranquilize the big cat, but couldn’t. Suddenly, the mountain lion charged at a police officer and two officers opened fire. The cat was struck once by a bullet and then sedated and taken to the Oakland Zoo for treatment, where it died during surgery.

After the incident, zoo staff posted on social media, “While trying to safely capture him, he was shot by local PD while CDFW was attempting to dart him with a tranquilizer."

Hollister police responded, saying the zoo's "choice of words is careless at best, and misleading at worst. It characterizes our actions as having been reckless and impatient, and none of that is true. We regret that they have yet to retract, correct, and amend their statement. Words matter."

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Bay Area Puma Project President Zara McDonald said her initial reaction was dismay and is calling for more resources and instruction on how to handle such situations.

"I won't fault the law enforcement for what happened," McDonald said. "I think that what it comes down to is we need more training for everybody because these incidents didn't happen so much in the past. They’re happening more."

Zoo staff posted a follow-up statement, saying, "Our posting stated the facts as reported to us by our partners at CDFW. Hollister PD was not named by us, nor judged by us, and we understand HPD has since issued multiple statements around why shots were fired by their officers based on their account — and we respect that."

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