A mountain lion wandered into downtown Santa Cruz Thursday morning, scaring residents and bringing a massive police presence to the waterway where it became surrounded by authorities and looky-loos.
By 2 p.m., crews were able to tranquilize it and take it away safely in a crate.
The live capture of the mountain lion capped off an exciting morning for Santa Cruz: After walking in populated areas, the big cat hopped into an aqueduct off Ocean Ave. The waterway is part of the San Lorenzo riverbed and leads to the Ocean.
Police had it surrounded by 9:30 a.m. They hunkered down and waited for a University of California Santa Cruz wildlife expert to assess the situation. The mountain lion was first spotted at about 7:30 a.m. behind a medical facility on Water Street.
Both the Santa Cruz Sentinel and a local television reporter on the scene said that animal experts shot the mountain lion with a tranquilizer gun around 12:30 p.m.
People on NBC Bay Area's Facebook page were urging officials not to kill the majestic beat.
KSBW reporter Phil Gomez took the photo at the top of this article. It shows the big cat trying to jump out of the aqueduct. It tried to free itself dozens of times, but could not jump the 15 to 20 foot needed to clear the concrete wall.
The wildlife experts said they would do whatever they can to keep the mountain lion alive and return it to the wild.
Three all-terrain vehicles were lowered into the aqueduct as officers considered using them to guide the mountain lion to a place in the aqueduct where it could escape.
The animal will be evaluated before being released back into the wild.