The cougar was safely euthanized and taken to a local animal care center. Irvine Police Department/Facebook
On Wednesday, a large cougar made a row at a Southern California mall as it walked past a hair salon in Sand Canyon Plaza. Elliott Matthews, an employee of the Irvine salon, captured video footage of an officer pursuing the 113-pound cougar. Matthews then closed the front door and the store was temporarily locked down while authorities worked to contain the animal, the Orange County Registry reports.
“Amazingly, people were still getting their hair cut,” Matthews told the Register.
Wildlife officers from the California Fish and Wildlife Department responded to the scene along with Irvine Police Department Animal Services. The big cat eventually ran into a nearby office building, where it had no way of escape, and an IPD Animal Services vet was able to get close enough to tranquilize the cat with a dart.
The sedated cougar was then transported to a local animal care center, where authorities determined it was a male, approximately 16 to 20 months old. He was fitted with a GPS collar and, according to Irvine PD, the cat will soon be taken to the nearby mountains to be released into a suitable habitat.
The Irvine Police Department said in a Facebook post that “it is rare for a mountain lion to be seen in Irvine.” But as the local paper pointed out, a cougar was spotted swimming in nearby Mission Viejo Lake last weekend.
“It was unclear if this was the same cougar,” the registry reported, “but it’s possible given the proximity and timing.”