A Central California police department is none too happy with the Oakland Zoo over a social media post involving a mountain lion that was shot by police, leading to some Facebook drama.
It’s an unfortunate phenomenon, and one we saw more frequently during the quieter shut-in period of the pandemic: mountain lions stumble into human habitats and trouble ensues.
But what’s unusual about a mountain lion encounter gone badly Friday is that the fur was flying on social media. After the Oakland Zoo posted that they were unable to save a mountain lion that had been shot by law enforcement, the police got awfully huffy in their response.
There were events in the lead-up to the Facebook video post above, as described by the Hollister Police Department Friday, about the “report of an adult mountain lion on the 1400 block of Diablo Dr., in a residential area.” The police responded, along with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel, who attempted to tranq-dart the big cat that was on someone's front porch.
The tranq-dart either missed or wasn't effective, and according to the police, the lion went into a shrub and then lunged toward an officer. The Hollister PD said that “two officers fired their rifles at the mountain lion.” And, “After examining the animal, it was determined that they had suffered at least one bullet wound to the abdomen.”
And so the badly injured cat was transported to the Oakland Zoo, which has a specialty in caring for mountain lions. “We were hopeful to share good news in this post, as our vet team did everything they could to save him, but learned just minutes ago that he passed during the emergency surgery,” the zoo says in the above post. “This is the 20th mountain lion to come to Oakland Zoo in need of help as another victim of human-wildlife conflict, and we are heartbroken with the tragic loss.”
This is sad, but would have been standard practice had things not gone sideways in the comments section, where plenty of commenters have salty remarks for the Hollister PD. The Hollister PD very defensively jumps into the fray.
“This post is misleading, careless, and irresponsible given your wide platform. Please amend or remove your post,” the department responded, a few hundred comments deep into the post. “We are proud of our officers and their thoughtfulness and patience in trying to resolve this situation without resorting to using lethal force.”
The Oakland Zoo’s post does not have any indication that they have edited the post, and they did not respond on Facebook to the provocation.
Yet the Hollister PD was not done, and they continue to bellyache in the Saturday Facebook post above. “We are aware of the Oakland Zoo post regarding the mountain lion incident yesterday,” the post says. “Their 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,” they add. “Words matter."
The zoo has taken the high road and did not take the bait. But they did issue a response to the kerfuffle to the Chronicle. “Our posting stated the facts as reported to us by our partners at CDFW,” the zoo’s vice president of marketing and communications Erin Harrison told the paper. “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.”
Related: Orphaned Baby Mountain Lion Improving After Blood Transfusion at Oakland Zoo [SFist]
Screenshot: via Facebook