A fierce mountain lion proved no match for a fierce mother in California, where authorities say a woman punched one of the big cats to save her young son from its clutches.
The terrifying encounter played out on the lawn of a home in Calabasas on Thursday, according to local wildlife officials.
The boy, 5, was playing on the front lawn when a 65-pound mountain lion pounced. The mountain lion “dragged him about 45 yards” across the lawn, according to Capt. Patrick Foy, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The lion might’ve killed the boy if not for his mother’s keen ear.
She heard the commotion and came charging out of the house to confront the wild cat, Foy said. The woman immediately started “punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” he said.
Foy described the woman as a “true hero” for taking on the mountain lion by herself.
“She absolutely saved her son’s life,” he said.
The boy’s parents rushed him to hospital, where he was treated for severe injuries to his head and torso. They also informed authorities about the attack.
A wildlife officer immediately went to the home and found the mountain lion crouching in some bushes outside, Foy said.
“Due to its behaviour and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department said in a statement.
DNA testing later confirmed that it was the same mountain lion.
Two other mountain lions were also found in the area, wildlife officials said. Authorities tranquillized and collared one before releasing it into the wild. The other was not captured because it had a collar, and the mother said the attacking cat did not.
Wildlife officials have tagged roughly 100 mountain lions with GPS collars in the Los Angeles area, according to the National Parks Service (NPS). The cats “are solitary, elusive animals and sightings are extremely rare” because they prefer to avoid humans, the NPS says.
Officials say the best way to drive a mountain lion off is to make yourself big and loud with sweeping gestures and shouts.
Last week’s incident was the first verified mountain lion attack in the Los Angeles area in 25 years, WGN-TV reports.
The boy was still in hospital in stable condition on Saturday.
The mountain lion-punching mother’s identity has not been released.