On Thursday morning, a collared female mountain lion named P-54 was near Calabasas, California, with two of her cubs. Born in October, the two young mountain lions were at an age when they’re learning to hunt on their own in preparation for taking care of themselves and becoming adults.
“On Aug 26, 2021, approximately 10:45 a.m., a 65-lb. mountain lion attacked the boy in his front yard, inflicting wounds to his head, neck and upper torso,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shared in a news release.
Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the CDFW, said that after attacking the boy, the lion “dragged him about 45 yards,” according to KCAL-TV.
But there was another mother nearby: the boy’s mother. She heard her son screaming and did what she had to to save him.
“The commotion caused by the attack and the boy’s screaming alerted the mom who was inside,” Foy continued. “She ran out and immediately started striking and punching at the lion and managed to fend the lion off of her son.”
The mountain lion released the boy and wandered away, but stayed close. The boy’s parents took the 5-year-old to the hospital, where he is thankfully reported as being in stable condition.
When CDFW showed up to investigate, the young lion was still on the property.
“Upon learning of the attack, CDFW’s law enforcement division immediately began an investigation both interviewing the victim’s family in the hospital and visiting the scene of the attack,” the news release continued.
“During a protocol clearing of the family’s yard, the wildlife officer at the home discovered an aggressive mountain lion crouched in the corner of the property. Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on site.”
Two other lions were found nearby, and with the help of the National Park Service, were identified: the mother, P-54, and her other cub, which was tranquilized and assessed to ensure the correct mountain lion had been dispatched.
As the boy’s mother had been up close and personal with the attacking animal, she was able to confirm that it did not have a collar on — which cleared P-54’s name. P-54 has had no recorded “human-wildlife conflicts in her history,” either, and she left the area shortly after the incident.
“DNA samples from the dispatched lion, the tranquilized lion and the child were collected and sent to CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento,” the release stated. “Wildlife Forensics Scientists analyzed samples from underneath the claws of the suspect lion carcass and isolated traces of human tissue and blood with a DNA profile that matched the young victim.”
“Additionally, a full lion DNA profile was isolated from the victim’s shirt that matched the profile of the lion carcass. Results were conclusive that it was the attacking lion that was shot by the wildlife officer on scene. The second lion that was tranquilized was excluded from any profiles that would affiliate it with the attack.”
The tranquilized cub was released near its mother after being collared.
This marks the first mountain lion attack on a human reported in the Santa Monica mountains in over 20 years, but even more impressive are the heroics of the mother who saved her son.
“This mom’s an absolute hero who saved her son’s life,” Foy said, “there’s no question about it.”