Here is an update on lion 39M, the young male that turned up in downtown Santa Cruz last month.  In short, he appears to be doing well, as interpreted from GPS locations and examination of a few sites where he’s killed and eaten prey.

‘Nice place for a drink of water (photo by Cameron Kolk)

GPS locations indicate that 39M is remaining near the area where he was released.  We had expected he would leave the area but he has instead expanded his range to include the surrounding slopes and countryside.  Young male lions travel long distances from the area they were raised in search of a vacant territory (see lion 35M).  We don’t know whether 39M will eventually leave the release area in search of a permanent territory or if he will adopt that area as his permanent home.

Leg of a fawn, successfully hunted and eaten by 39M and evidence that he has the skills he’ needs to survive (photo by Cameron Kolk)

And, what has 39M been eating?  From the handful of gps locations we’ve gone out and visited in-person, he’s adopted a healthy puma diet of fawns and raccoons.  That 39M is successfully catching normal puma prey and sustaining himself indicates to us that he emerged from his urban experience and collaring in good condition and has the skills he needs to survive.

Young lions are an intriguing age group to study because they can travel such great distances to establish their own homes and reveal one way in which animals from one area move and are connected with animals in a different area.  Stay in touch with our blog for updates if 39M decides to move on.