Palm Desert

Two Rescued Mountain Lions Make a New Home at The Living Desert

The heart-tugging stories of Rose and Sage caught the attention of big cat lovers earlier in 2022, but a happy ending awaited in Palm Desert.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife/Oakland Zoo

ROSE AND SAGE? Just the very words brim with natural beauty, poetry, love, and happiness, too. But for Rose and Sage, two mountain lions found earlier in 2022 in challenging circumstances, the road to better lives would take them on a journey of healing, helpful humans, and, ultimately, a new home at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. The Palm Desert animal park announced on Sept. 20 that the two youngsters would now make a "fur-ever" home on the property, giving them a chance to grow, play, and thrive. The pair's arrival date at The Living Zoo felt especially auspicious: Thursday, Sept. 22, the first day of autumn and start to a new season. The mountain lions were transported to the desert destination from the Oakland Zoo, where they had benefitted from months of care and treatment. As for their much-documented discovery stories? Rose was spotted by hikers in a San Mateo preserve in April 2022, "(o)rphaned, emaciated, and malnourished," while Sage made national headlines after being found in a classroom at Pescadero High School in June 2022. Neither cub could be returned to the wild, due to their lack of "necessary skills" to survive.

DEDICATED STAFF MEMBERS... at the Oakland Zoo worked tirelessly to prepare the animals for their new Palm Desert home, providing "positive training experiences" that accentuated both a calm approach to travel and the all-important burnishing of social skills. The juveniles' "... journey to Southern California went smoothly and they are now acclimating to their new surroundings. Both cats were calm throughout the evening and through our camera monitoring, we observed expected behaviors including drinking, grooming, exploring, playing, and sleeping," noted Heather Down, Animal Care Curator of The Living Desert. "Rose and Sage will remain behind-the-scenes for about a week as they get accustomed to their new environment and the animal care team builds a relationship with them."

MOUNTAIN LION MAVENS... may also be familiar with Salem, a longtime resident of The Living Zoo. Rose and Sage, however, will not live with the established cat due to their robust energy levels. If you're calling upon the destination's Eagle Canyon-based mountain lion habitat, do keep in mind that you will either get to admire the more mature Salem enjoying the den or the two "littles" at play (though, most certainly, Rose and Sage are growing bigger by the day). "We are so excited to welcome Rose and Sage to The Living Desert," said RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care at The Living Desert. "These cats have such an amazing story, and we are honored to be part of their next chapter. We are so proud of our colleagues at the Oakland Zoo for the exemplary care and dedication to the well-being of these amazing animals." You can admire these charming cats' considerable spunk now by checking out The Living Desert's Instagram.

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