Authorities Investigate Puma’s Death

April 21, 2006

Though some questions have been answered, mystery continues to surround the death of a male puma on Good Friday in Lotes de Perú, a neighborhood in the southwestern San José suburb of Escazú.

A resident saw the five-year-old, 50-kilogram puma – which had apparently escaped from the nearby Cerro Cedral private biological reserve – in a pine tree on the morning of April 14 and alerted neighbors.Veterinarian Francisco Madrigal sedated the puma with a half-dose of ketamine, a drug commonly used to tranquilize animals, in hopes of getting the puma to come down from the tree, according to the daily La Nación.

After a few hours, the puma descended and ran away. By the time Madrigal found the animal, it had been kicked and struck by onlookers, captured and tied up by its neck. Madrigal told the daily he found the animal bleeding from its snout and almost strangled because of the restraints on its neck. It died shortly afterwards.

Lotes de Perú residents told La Nación the sedative Madrigal administered killed the animal, while the veterinarian maintains the ketamine could not have hurt the puma and that internal hemorrhage or cardiac arrest likely caused its death.

According to the daily Al Día, an autopsy performed at the Pathology Department of the UniversidadNacionalVeterinarySchool showed the puma died of a pulmonary edema, which could have been produced by strangling, shock, or by an overdose of ketamine. Further analysis is under way to determine which factor killed the animal, the daily reported.

Alvaro Riba, owner of the Cerro Cedral reserve, told La Nación he was unaware of the puma’s fate until he read about it in the newspaper. He said the dead puma was his only male – he has two female pumas at the reserve – and added that clear protocol should exist for dealing with wild animals in urban zones.

It is unclear how the puma reached Lotes de Perú; the National System of Conservation Areas, part of the Environment Ministry, has asked the Cerro Cedral reserve for an explanation, according to Al Día.

 

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