updated 6/29/2004 2:04:59 AM ET 2004-06-29T06:04:59

A mountain lion that attacked a hiker on a clifftop trail in central California over the weekend did not have rabies but was well below its average weight, wildlife officials said Monday.

The 2-year-old male lion weighed 58 pounds, while most cougars its age weigh 80 to 100 pounds, said Lorna Bernard, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game. The emaciated lion injured a Santa Monica woman Saturday before it was fought off by her boyfriend and later killed by wildlife officers.

A necropsy Monday determined that the animal didn’t have rabies and that its stomach was empty except for the bone of a rodent, Bernard said. Other examinations to determine whether the animal was sick could take another week, but state officials said they may never learn why the lion attacked.

“Even if they explain the mystery why it was thin, it won’t explain the mystery of why the lion wanted to attack a human,” Bernard said.

The animal should have been able to feast on deer and vegetation that had returned to the area as it recovers from a 2002 wildfire, she said. Mountain lions will also eat coyotes, plants and berries if there aren’t enough deer in the wild.

Shannon Parker, 27, lost her right eye in Saturday’s attack and had deep wounds to her right thigh, authorities said. She has undergone hours of reconstructive surgery while recuperating at UCLA Medical Center.

Her family asked the hospital not to release additional information.

It was the 15th mountain lion attack on a human in California since 1890.

In January, a mountain lion mauled two bicyclists in separate attacks at an Orange County wilderness park.

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