Mountain lion scare in Palm Desert

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Kate conway lives less than a block from The Living Desert. 

"It's very concerning. We have this little dog who is in and out all day and four cats," she said.  

A staff member spotted a mountain lion roaming in The Living Desert Friday morning.  The zoo is home to a female mountain lion and the roaming one was male, so the zoo knew it was wild. Staff shut down The Living Desert - and called Palm Desert Police.  

"We open at 7:00 for members, so we did have a few in the park and staff is here early. We shut down operations and swept the park and removed everyone from position that might cause danger," Living Desert CEO Stacey Johnson said. 

A couple hours later, staff realized the mountain lion didn't pose a threat to visitors anymore. They still didn't know if it left the park, though.

"We are pretty sure he is. These guys are shy. They don't want to be around people. The more people around making noise the more likely they had skidaddled back up the mountain."

Conway hopes that's true, for the sake of her little dog and four cats.

"I'd be on the lookout for that. I'd hate to lose our animals to a mountain lion," Conway said. 

"People aren't normal prey for wild mountain lions. Just be observant take care of pets outdoors they are easy prey. Folks should be on alert but not worried," Johnson said. 

If you see the mountain lion in your area, call the Palm Desert Police Department. They told us they will call Animal Control, who will try to capture the animal safely and return it to a safe habitat. If the police need further assistance, they will call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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