A mother saved her 5-year-old son from a mountain lion after it attacked the boy in the front yard of the family home in Calabasas, California, wildlife officials said. The child was taken to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement that a 65-pound mountain lion left wounds on the child's head, neck and upper torso on Thursday. The boy was rescued by his mother, who hit the animal multiple times, according to officials.
The mother jumped into action after she heard the boy's screaming, Captain Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told CBS Los Angeles.
"She ran outside and immediately started striking and punching at the lion and managed to fend the lion off her son," he said. "This mom's an absolute hero who saved her son's life, there's no question about it."
Wildlife officials said during an investigation at the scene of the attack, they came across an "aggressive" mountain lion who the warden believed was the big cat that injured the child. They fatally shot it and lab tests later confirmed it was the attacking mountain lion.
About 20 minutes after he shot the mountain lion, two others appeared – one was a full-grown adult with a radio collar and another was a smaller lion without one, wildlife officials said. The older mountain lion was a female who birthed cubs in October 2020 and part of a study. The other mountain lion was collared and both were released to the nearest suitable habitat, officials said.
Experts say if you encounter a mountain lion, do not turn and run away. Instead, Ana Beatriz Cholo, who is with the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, told CBS Los Angeles that you should "try to make yourself look bigger than you are and give it space to move on." If that doesn't work, then physical action or throwing items may be used, she said.