SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — With the park's doors temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego Zoo Safari Park is seeing more mountain lions in the area.
Mountain lions are known to inhabit the areas surrounding the North County zoo, but with no visitors, the park says the animals are venturing closer to the park.
"With the current decrease in human activity at the Safari Park, wildlife care experts have noted increased mountain lion activity," a spokesperson with San Diego Zoo Global said.
They've been getting aggressive.
"We have had a couple animals lost, that we believe were from mountain lions," said Steve Metzler, the mammal curator at the park.
He didn't say how many, but said several gazelles had been killed recently.
In response, the zoo has started a temporary program to deter mountain lions that move into the vicinity of the zoo's animal habitats. Some methods being used include motion-sensitive sprinklers, motion-sensitive flood lights, and trail cameras to discourage the big cats from entering the zoo's property.
All of the methods do not harm mountain lions, the zoo says.
"Additional measures taken include moving vulnerable animal species to more protected areas, adding new fences, increasing the height of some fence lines and increasing patrols by security personnel," the spokesperson added.
Essential staff members continue to work at the Safari Park daily and are also taking precautions.
According to San Diego County, there are about 4,000 - 6,000 mountain lions throughout California. The animals usually hunt alone and at night.