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Amanda, a mountain lion that has been a main fixture at the OC Zoo for years, died Dec. 29. She was 16 years old.

Amanda came to the OC Zoo from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. She was found as an orphan cub in Amador County, Calif. She could not be released to the wild because she was too young to survive on her own, so she was given a home at the OC Zoo.

In 2011, she had back surgery to repair a herniated disk that made it difficult for her to move. Amanda was quite an elderly cat to have such a procedure but she recovered well. Following her recovery, the OC Zoo adapted an enclosure to make her more comfortable and less likely to reinjure herself.

Earlier this year, OC Zoo staff celebrated Amanda’s 16th birthday by decorating her enclosure and making her a special birthday treat. The zoo’s three-year-old mountain lions siblings, Santiago and Modjeska, also celebrated their birthdays.

Amanda was greatly beloved by staff, volunteers and zoo visitors. She will be greatly missed. 

The OC Zoo inside Irvine Regional Park is a haven for rescued animals native to the desert southwest. Most of the animals that come to the OC Zoo could not be released to the wild due to health or socialization issues.