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Cougar wanders into California classroom — one official thought it was a seniors' prank

Pescadero, Calif. — A quick-thinking custodian safely confined a curious young cougar in an empty classroom after it entered a Northern California high school Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The custodian was opening Pescadero High for the school day when the juvenile mountain lion was spotted, said Detective Javier Acosta with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. No students or teachers were on campus at the time, Acosta said.

"The mountain lion casually walked through campus and decided to go into an English classroom," he said. "The custodian acted quickly and managed to shut the door behind it."

Acosta said the animal, estimated to be about 40 pounds, appeared "lost and scared."

Mountain Lion Classroom
Photo provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office shows a mountain lion after it entered an empty high school classroom in Pescadero, Calif., on June 1, 2022. Javier Acosta/San Mateo County Sheriff's Office via AP

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife tranquilized the cat and sent it to the Oakland Zoo for examination.

Amy Wooliever, the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District superintendent, told CBS San Francisco they've had encounters with mountain lions before, but not quite like this.

"We have had occasions where a mountain lion has walked by the elementary school along the ridge and such, so we are used to that out here," she said. But, having one in a classroom - I honestly thought it was a senior prank at first because it was the day before school is out." 

The underweight male was estimated to be 4 to 6 months old and had a fractured tooth that will need to be extracted before the cat can be released back into the wild, KTVU-TV reported.

Pescadero is a small coastal community about 35 miles south of San Francisco. 

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