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Mountain lion captured in O.C. is moved to private zoo

July 18, 2012 |  1:24 pm

More photos: Orange County Mountain Lion
The mountain lion captured in the south Orange County wilderness Tuesday morning has been moved to a private zoo north of Lancaster, where the 100-pound animal will be temporarily housed.

A battery of tests, including blood work, chemical panels and disease screens have come back normal, said Dr. Scott Weldy, the Lake Forest veterinarian who has been caring for the big cat since it was captured in Whiting Ranch.

The mountain lion is being held in quarantine cages at the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, a Rosamond facility that specializes in breeding cats of endangered species and houses 70 different species, from the clouded leopard to the Canadian lynx.

PHOTOS: Mountain lion captured in O.C. park

Weldy, who also works at the breeding facility, said it would be happy to take the 2-year-old male mountain lion on a permanent basis. The mountain lion the facility displayed for years recently died of old age, he said.

“He would be a good replacement,” Weldy said.

There's no word yet on where the state Department of Fish and Game plans to house the mountain lion ultimately.

For now, he’s being treated for ticks and has three 20-foot cages to roam among. The park is open to the public, but closed Wednesdays.

The mountain lion was taken captive after displaying “unusual behavior” since being spotted on Serrano Cow Trial, a favorite path for mountain bikers. Initially closed because of the mountain lion, the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park was reopened Tuesday, but the bike trail remained closed.

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--- Christine Mai-Duc

Photo: Mountain lion trapped in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

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