PESCADERO -- A mountain lion cub wandered into an empty classroom at Pescadero High School along the Peninsula Wednesday morning, getting isolated behind a closed door until animal control officers arrived to remove it.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said a quick-thinking custodian saw the young puma walk into the classroom before the school day started at 8:20 a.m. and shut the door on it, keeping it contained.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers arrived at the school at about 9:30 a.m. to formulate a plan to safely release it back into the wild.
Earlier Wednesday, the sheriff's office said all students and staff were safe at the school and there was no immediate threat.
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has been notified and is being dispatched to the school for safe and humane removal of the animal," said a statement from the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office was alerted about the mountain lion at about 8:20 a.m., before the start of the school day.
The Half Moon Bay Review reported a teacher and a student first noticed the puma in front of the school, and that it tried to run into the building but ran into a glass door first, then entered the school and couldn't get out after running into the glass door again.
"Definitely not what I was expecting today when I came to school. I was expecting some tough finals, but a mountain lion," said 10th grader Jay Alsadier. "I've seen some, but for it to be at school, that's pretty crazy."
Alsadier snapped a photo of the cat in the classroom.
"It was pretty small. It was a cub, it didn't look that threatening to be honest. It was just a little cub," he said. "It seemed pretty scared. It seemed more scared of us than we were of it."
After several hours, California Fish and Wildlife personnel were able to safely remove the cub from the classroom.
"We used a dart tranquilizer rifle to put a drug mix into the animal through the dart. It went down smoothly. No problems," said John Krause, Sr. Wildlife Biologist for the Bay Delta Region. "It is safely being transported to Oakland Zoo, where we'll work with our partners to get the animal assessed and find out its condition before we release it."
Amy Wooliever, the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District superintendent, says the cougar in the classroom caused quite the commotion.
"It interrupted our final exams and other planned classroom activities," she said. "We have postponed our promotion ceremony for our 8th-grade students that was planned for tonight. We're moving it to tomorrow night just before our high school graduation."
She says 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's the day before school is out."
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