Mountain lion cub burned in California fire is rescued by firefighter, treated at zoo

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A firefighter fighting the Zogg fire in northern California rescued an orphaned lion cub that had been badly burned.

The small male weighs less than 4 pounds and is 4 to 6 weeks old. He is being treated at the Oakland Zoo.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the zoo said it had named baby Captain Cal after the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection mascot, or Cal Fire. He is being treated for burns to his feet.

“He ate and looks a lot better than when he arrived,” the zoo said.

The little one was found Wednesday in an area burned by the Zogg fire near Redding, about 160 miles north of Sacramento.

The zoo said in a press release that after the firefighter found the cub alone, it was turned over to the California Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, who asked the zoo to help treat the cub.

“We are very grateful for the expertise of the Oakland Zoo, its world-class facilities and its willingness to step up – in an extremely short time – to help wildlife in need,” said Dr. Deana. Clifford, the agency’s senior veterinarian, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, a lion of this size is too small to be released into the wild, but we hope that under the care of the zoo he will have a second chance as an ambassador for his species,” the statement said.

The little one has suffered “serious” burns to his paws and his whiskers are completely burned, the Oakland Zoo said. X-rays showed there was no damage to his lungs or bones.

The zoo said in its press release that Captain Cal was eating on his own and “acting fiercely,” which he said were signs of improvement.

“We are grateful to be a part of rescuing and rehabilitating this amazing little cub,” zoo veterinary hospital director Dr Alex Herman said in a statement. “We are cautiously optimistic that this little one will now survive and thrive, our dedicated team at the Oakland Zoo are fully committed to doing all we can for him and his beautiful species.

Mountain lion cubs stay with their mothers until they are about two years old in order to learn how to survive in the wild, according to the zoo. As Captain Cal was orphaned at such a young age, he will be moved to a “decent house forever” after leaving the zoo hospital, the press release said.

The Zogg Fire has burned more than 56,300 acres and destroyed 179 structures since it began Sunday in Shasta County. Four people were killed in the blaze which is 57% contained.

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