You may remember the mountain lion cubs that were collected from under a parked car in Burbank in late 2011. At the time, residents were poking at the hungry cubs with sticks. After being taken in by a wildlife rescue center in Calabasas for awhile, the cubs were moved to an education center, Zoo to You, in Paso Robles in Central California. A documentary film crew is recording their upbringing from an upcoming film on urban lions, per an update from SoCalWild.com:
The 3-month old cubs were only 9 and 11 pounds when they arrived at the facility a little more than a year ago. Now, they are packing in between 75 -80 pounds, a more adequate weight for carnivorous cats.
They were first named Olive and Magnolia (Burbank streets, dontcah know) until it was discovered that Magnolia was a boy. Now known as Olive and Leno (yes, after Jay Leno whose Tonight Show tapes in beautiful downtown Burbank), the not-so-cubby cats spend a good chunk of their days working with trainers and resolving trust issues. It’s hoped the duo will become traveling educational ambassadors, taking the mantel from the facilities’ two other “elderly” cougars that are 15 years old.
Training is “a long process and with large cats, we usually start when they are only a few days or weeks old,” explains Cottle. “With these cubs being three months old, we are working through a lot of fears they have – fear of being killed, being eaten, starving. These two still have that ‘fight’ in them, but we are making very good progress.”
Consider the plight of the three trainers who work with the cats – everything is positive reinforcement which means praising and acknowledging good behavior and totally ignoring bad behavior. “So when the cats, claw or bite you, you just have to ignore it. You can’t react when they do that,” says Cottle. “That can be really hard to do when they are in attack mode.” Soon, the cats will realize they aren’t “getting a rise” out of the human and decide to do something else…something that may get them a treat or other goodies.
DNA testing traced the cubs to a small colony of lions believed to roam the Verdugo Mountains in Burbank, according to the site.
Photo of the lion called Olive courtesy of Zoo to You