JACKSON, Calif. (AP) — Five California mountain lions were seen together on home surveillance video in a rare gathering of the notoriously solitary big cats.
The footage was recorded at a rural residence at the edge of the El Dorado National Forest east of Sacramento, KTXL-TV reported Wednesday.
“We shared the videos and photos with several of our wildlife biologists, and none of them could recall ever seeing five mountain lions together,” said Peter Tira, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He called the images “extraordinary.”
One of the cougars is bigger than the others, so scientists speculate it’s the mother lion. The others are likely her cubs, but Tira does not believe all of them are from the same litter.
Mothers often chase off their cubs after a year, so seeing a family of them is uncommon, he said.
According to biologists, the only time mountain lions are spotted together is either during mating season or when a mother is raising her cubs, but typically only three at most are seen together.
“They’re not very tolerant of other mountain lions in their territories,” Tira said.
With more home surveillance systems going up, biologists are getting more images of mountain lions in their habitat than ever before, he said.