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By David K. Li
The mountain lion killed in Colorado by a runner who said he was fighting for life and death was an orphan kitten, wildlife officials said Friday.
The big cat that attacked Travis Kauffman in Colorado Springs on February 4th was a 4- to 5-month-old male, based on an examination of the animal's teeth, a necropsy performed by veterinarians from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
At the time of the attack, the vets probably weighed between 35 and 40 pounds. At the time of the necropsy, the remains of the mountain lion weighed only 24 pounds, as they had been partially eaten, probably by his two surviving siblings, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay.
The attacking mountain lion and his siblings were probably deprived of their mother, who is usually the sole keeper, Clay said. The two brothers and sisters of the dead lion were trapped as a result of the attack and are currently in a wildlife rehabilitation center. They intend to release them in the wild.
"Mountain lions are solitary animals that only congregate for breeding," Clay told NBC News on Friday. "We had no signs of an adult woman's presence near the scene that day or in the following days, which is one of the reasons we think these kittens have become orphans. "
Kauffman, 31, was running on a scenic trail on Horsetooth Mountain when the young mountain lion was thrown at him. The injured Kauffman said that he could not force the animal out of him, leaving him no choice but to shoot him down and finally walk on his throat to kill him. .
"The results of the autopsy corroborated the description of the events given by the victim," according to state findings. "The cause of death was determined to be multifactorial, including blunt trauma and strangulation."
Necropsy revealed that the Kauffman killed mountain lion "was hungry but not starving" and that "rabies testing was negative".