Add another item to the list of things San Francisco has that your town probably doesn't: In addition to miles of ocean and bay waterfront, roller coaster hills, one of the world's most beautiful urban parks, an iconic bridge, and peerless sourdough bread, the City by the Bay now boasts... a mountain lion.
SF Weekly reports that there have been four recent wildcat sightings in the city, including one caught by a video surveillance camera. Sources from the Pesidio Trust, the National Park Service, and San Francisco Animal Care and Control believe the sightings were all of the same cat. As many visitors to SF do, the feline tourist explored several corners of town, including tony Sea Cliff, the Presidio parkland, Gough Street, and Lake Merced.
My wife and I lived in San Francisco's Inner Sunset district (just south of Golden Gate Park and a little southwest of the Haight-Ashbury) for eight years, and the city remains one of our very favorite travel destinations (and millions of world travelers agree with us on that). It's also the kind of place where you never quite know who or what awaits around the next corner. We saw our share of oddballs and lost souls in our time. But we never saw a mountain lion cruising Gough Street.
If you're visiting SF anytime soon, take a sec to eyeball the advice offered by the Presidio Trust (these are the same rules you should follow if you encounter a mountain lion in the wild or in a national park):
If you see a mountain lion...
Maintain eye contact.
Do not approach the Mountain Lion.
Do not turn your back or run.
Appear as big and threatening as possible.
Give the Mountain Lion room to run away. Do not corner it.
If the mountain lion appears threatening...
Pull children close to you and pick them up without crouching down.
Throw rocks sticks, water bottles, backpacks, and any heavy objects available to you.
Speak loudly and firmly. Wave your arms and clap your hands above your head.
Fight back if attacked. Do not play dead or lie down.
The cat has not been seen in several days and was believed to be heading south out of San Francisco, presumably leaving behind a trail of scat and, like Tony Bennett, its heart.