Palo Alto police cited a mountain lion Thursday for violating the city's sit-lie ordinance, but the big cat claims he was simply waiting in line for a latte.
"I can't catch a break. All I wanted was my morning coffee," said Paul D. Puma, a mountain lion who lives in the outskirts of Portola Valley.
Police were called to the Peet's on Homer Avenue in downtown Palo Alto Thursday morning when several customers said they felt threatened and that Puma seemed "agitated." When police arrived, Puma was sitting outside the coffee shop with a large latte nestled between his paws. He appeared calm, officers said, though they still handed him the citation.
"Just because I'm a mountain lion, people think I'm dangerous. No one says a word when Sammy Squirrel or Larry Labrador wants a mocha, but when I need a morning java all heck breaks loose," Puma said.
"I'm much more dangerous when I don't have my morning coffee. Trust me," Puma added.
A Palo Alto police spokesman said it is standard procedure to be on alert when a mountain lion is out in public. And the city takes its sit-lie ordinance seriously.
"Look, a mountain lion is a predator, plain and simple. He was in clear violation of the sit-lie ordinance, and we handed him the citation," the spokesman said.
Puma said he plans to contest the fine, which he said violates his constitutional rights and is unfair to the local mountain lion population.
"Look, mountain lions like to sit. We're heavy; we have to walk around on all fours. It's tiring. I'll fight this thing all the way to City Hall and beyond if I have to," Puma said while sipping his latte.
(Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day!)