Rescued Solvang Lion cubs

Where Are The Cats? Animal Expert Fears Worst For Pair of Mountain Lion Cubs

Santa Barbara News Press April 6, 2009 Julia Di Sieno, executive director of Animal Rescue Team Inc., told the News-Press that the cubs were not taken to the Santa Barbara Zoo, as state Department of Fish and Game officials had apparently promised her.
“This is so unsettling because we do not know where these cubs are,” Ms. Di Sieno said Sunday. “Why didn’t they go to the zoo as promised?”
Ms. Di Sieno fears that the cubs could have been put down by game wardens or released back into the wild—a grave mistake, she said, given the cubs’ condition.
The 3-month-old cats were grossly underfed, weighing in at about 15 and 18 pounds, respectively, according to Ms. Di Sieno. A typical cub of this age should weigh anywhere from 30 to 45 pounds.
“They were emaciated and in need of medical attention,” Ms. Di Sieno said. “One of them was the size of my house cat.”
Ms. Di Sieno and one of her volunteers, Lisa Matheson, cornered and tranquilized the female cubs on Aarhus Drive in Solvang on Friday evening. The cats were taken to the Animal Rescue Team’s facility in Santa Ynez, where they were being cared for by veterinarian Sheri MacVeigh.
Game wardens took custody of the tranquilized cats, stating that Animal Rescue Team was not permitted to house them, according to Ms. Di Sieno. Ms. Di Sieno objected to the proposal, but later relented.
“Once they said they were taking them to the zoo, I was OK with that,” Ms. Di Sieno said. “But I was still concerned that they might not go there.”
That is why Ms. Matheson followed two wardens as they transported the cubs in the flatbed of two pick-up trucks. The wardens allegedly approached Ms. Matheson at the animal control center in Goleta.
“I asked where they were going and (one of the wardens) said they were going to be taken care of, and that had me worried,” Ms. Matheson said. “All they kept saying when I asked what was going to happen to the cats was ‘that’s confidential.”
Representatives from the Santa Barbara Zoo confirmed Sunday that they were approached by officials from Fish and Game about sheltering the cubs, but were unable to receive the young mountain lions.
“Often, though I wouldn’t say regularly, Cal Fish and Game and other agencies bring us animals to see if we can house them,” said Alan Varsik, Santa Barbara Zoo director of animal programs and conservation.
“But in the case of the mountain lions, we have to make sure that we have the appropriate habitat and resources for the species and we do not have them at this time,” he said.
Fish and Game representatives did not return repeated calls for comment.
Ms. Di Sieno said she has a few ideas about where the cubs can be cared for, including the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, located in Rosemont, CA.
“I have had a long standing relationship with Joe Maynard, the executive director of the compound,” she said.
“He offered to take the cats Friday night and his offer still stands.”

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