SAN DIEGO — An orphaned cougar with disabilities from a car collision in 2020 has found a new home in San Diego.

A local big cat and bear sanctuary called Lions Tigers & Bears rescued the 3-year-old animal on Friday from a Northern California feline center that is closing its doors after filing for bankruptcy.

The young cougar, named Nicholas, was the only cat left on-site.

Officials with Lions Tigers & Bears say the rescue came just before the Saturday closure date, despite snowstorms and road closures that challenged the mission.

Nicholas was orphaned on Christmas night in 2020 when he and his mother were struck by a vehicle while crossing a road in Orange County, the sanctuary explained. Tragically, his mother died at the scene.

The young cougar sustained severe injuries and spent three months undergoing various surgeries. Though Nicholas went through an intensive recovery process, the sanctuary says a release back into the wild would be impossible due to his special medical needs.

“Nicholas has a head tilt and neurological issues, both conditions require ongoing veterinary care,” said Lions Tigers & Bears Founder and Director Bobbi Brink. “We’ve had a few animals with these issues, so our veterinary team is well-versed in providing the specialized care required for Nicholas and we’re relieved to give him a permanent home with a den, a healthy diet, medical care and enrichment and toys.”

A 3-year-old cougar named 'Nichola
A 3-year-old cougar named ‘Nicholas’ will now be taken care of by professionals at Lions Tigers & Bears in East County, San Diego. (Photo released by Lions Tigers & Bears)

According to the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, an average of 70 mountain lions are killed yearly by car collisions on California state highways.

Lions Tigers & Bears is a “NO KILL, NO BREED, NO CONTACT” animal rescue sanctuary and educational facility located in East County.