Breaking News Blog

Saturday, May 25 2013 04:11 PM

CALM loses beloved mountain lion, Willow

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Willow leaps as she runs around her home at CALM. This photo was taken when Willow was one of two new mountain lions at CALM. Willow died Friday.

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  2. 2 of 9

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Willow, one of CALM's mountain lions, takes it easy on a ledge in the Cats of California Exhibit in 2011. Willow died on Friday.

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  3. 3 of 9

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    CALM curator, Don Richardson, holds Willow, then a 15- to 18- week-old mountain lion that lives at the California Living Museum. Willow died Friday.

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  4. 4 of 9

    By Casey Christie

    Lana Fain, CALM zoo manager, hugs Willow, the baby mountain lion when she was first introduced to the public at the California Living Museum.

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  5. 5 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Willow, one of CALM's two new mountain lions, shows her defensive side when she saw viewers on the other side of the glass at the new exhibit in this file photo. Wilow died Friday.

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  6. 6 of 9

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Bill Curtis, 1180 Kern Radio news anchor, left, tries for a soundbite from Willow, the new baby mountain lion that CALM zoo manager, Lana Fain, holds during a press conference Thursday introducing the new animal to the California Living Museum.

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  7. 7 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Don Richardson, curator at CALM, gets inside the cage to help Willow become more relaxed in the new mountain lion exhibit.

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  8. 8 of 9

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Haley Richardson, 2 1/2, stands eye to eye with Willow the mountain lion, on the safe side of the glass, in this file photo. Willow died Friday.

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  9. 9 of 9

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Willow the mountain lion was brought out during a press conference at the California Living Museum when she was first introduced to the public. Willow was from northern California and resided at CALM until her death on Friday.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

The California Living Museum suffered a devastating loss Friday when its beloved 3-year-old mountain lion, Willow, died suddenly.

Willow had suffered a mysterious puncture wound no more than 48 hours before her death. It was tiny, only two to three millimeters, on her side near her front left leg, said CALM spokeswoman Lana Fain.

Related Info

If you go:

CALM is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy. (between Lake Ming and Hart Park).

For information, call 661-872-2256.

No one even noticed it until she began having difficulty breathing early Friday and died.

CALM's veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Willis discovered the puncture wound after her death. Though it was small, the puncture caused bleeding into the chest, subsequent breathing problems and death, Willis reported.

In a press release, Don Richardson, CALM Curator of Animals, said staff had examined her enclosure and found nothing that could have caused such a wound.

"Perhaps she fell on something while she was playing with Sage (CALM's other mountain lion) or she fell on something when she was jumping down from the rocks where she likes to sleep," Richardson said in the release. "With a wound that small we may never know what caused it.

"Needless to say we are devastated."

Willow came to CALM in 2010 at only five or six weeks old after being discovered on the side of Interstate 5 near Mt. Shasta with two siblings. She was the only kitten of the three to survive.

"She had pneumonia and we almost lost her then," recalled CALM's Fain.

Willow was very cuddly right from the start and spent part of her youth in the office, even going home with staff, Fain said.

"She loved to be petted through the fence and would purr. Or we would make squeaky noises and she would respond."

Sage, who came to the zoo from a sanctuary in Florida, has a much different personality and isn't interested in cuddling, Fain said.

But she misses her cohort.

"We'll find a new lion soon, it's best for Sage," Fain said.

When one of CALM's brown bears, Dart, died, she said the other bear, Cinnamon became depressed and began exhibiting in negative behaviors, such as pacing and circling non stop.

Though the zoo lost an iconic animal last week, the CALM press release noted it also celebrated a new life with the birth of its first desert bighorn sheep born as part of a cooperative breeding program with the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos.

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