What was supposed to be a routine day of classes at Pescadero Middle/High School as students prepare for summer break took an unexpected turn Wednesday when a young, underweight mountain lion walked onto the campus and went inside a classroom.
No one was injured during the encounter and students and staff were sent home after the animal was sighted. California Department of Fish and Wildlife employees safely removed the animal and took it to the Oakland Zoo for a health assessment.
The mountain lion appeared to be underweight and may not be in the best of health. It is about four to six months old and weighs 40 pounds, according to the state department. Oakland Zoo posted on its Facebook page that the lion had a fractured tooth that would need to be extracted.
Zoo officials said the lion is too young to survive on its own in the wild, so plans are to relocate it to an accredited zoo facility once it has regained its health.
About 8:23 a.m., the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the school notifying them that there was a mountain lion in a classroom.
Sheriff’s Detective Javier Acosta said that a school staff member saw the mountain lion enter the classroom, shut the classroom door to contain it, then called 911.
Upon arrival, deputies located the animal and ensured that it was contained to the classroom.
Veterinary teams at Oakland Zoo assess the medical condition of a mountain lion relocated from San Mateo County on Wednesday. (Video courtesy of Oakland Zoo/Facebook)
Acosta said that students and teachers were never in danger and a post from the Sheriff’s Office Twitter account stated that students and staff were sent home before noon. Events that had to be postponed at the campus because of the lion, including finals and a commencement ceremony, were expected to be rescheduled for Thursday.
Ken Paglia, spokesperson from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that every year they get a handful of calls about mountain lion sightings in San Mateo County.
Paglia said that this type of incident usually happens when a young mountain lion is looking for new territory and passes through urban developments to find its new habitat. This may have been the case with the one spotted at the school on Wednesday.
“If you see a mountain lion, respect the animal and give it space,” Paglia said, adding that people should contact local law enforcement for encounters like the one that occurred at the school.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife further recommends that people stay alert on trails. And if you encounter a mountain lion, do not run and do not approach the animal.
During encounters, the department suggests: “Stay calm. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger.”
More information about mountain lions in California can be found of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.