Los Angeles is home to some of the wealthiest and most famous people in the world. Wealthy neighborhoods in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Santa Monica are home to sprawling multimillion-dollar developments. In these communities, you can find all kinds of celebrities, including movie stars, professional athletes, and industry titans. These people lead their respective industries and stand at the top of the social pyramid. That said, one of the most notorious celebrities in Los Angeles history wasn’t a person, but a wild animal.
For years, the mountain lion known as P-22 has been prowling the Hollywood Hills. For about 10 years, the P-22 garnered a lot of media attention. His life and impact on Los Angeles have been documented in numerous books, films, television shows and other forms of art. Tragically, P-22’s life ended on December 17, 2022, after agents with the National Park Service (NPS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) discovered he suffered trauma and suffered from several other long-term health problems. In this article, we’ll examine the history of the “Hollywood Cat.” By doing so, we hope to honor his legacy and draw attention to the situation of cougars living in and around Los Angeles.
mountain lions around los angeles
For thousands of years, mountain lions have dominated the rugged terrain of North America. However, the arrival of European settlers in the late 15th century marked a turning point in the history of the mountain lion. Within a few hundred years, humans killed or expelled mountain lions from most of their historical range. Today, only 15 or 16 states in the United States have established mountain lion populations. Several of these states have only a few hundred cougars, and only a few states have more than 2,000 cougars.
California has one of the largest mountain lion populations in the United States. There are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions living in the Golden State. Take a look at the California landscape and you can see why mountain lions continue to thrive in the state. Although California has more than 39 million people, most residents live in dense urban centers. Overall, approximately 47 percent of the state’s land falls into the protected land category. That means California mountain lions have access to large, largely uninhabited areas where they can hunt and breed in relative peace.
While the majority of mountain lions live in the remote mountains and forests of California, a small number buck the trend. At any given time, you can find about two dozen mountain lions in and around Los Angeles. Most of Los Angeles’ mountain lions live in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of the city. However, one lion has parted ways with the rest of his kin and created a new home for himself in downtown Los Angeles. The lion, P-22, lived in Griffith Park for almost 10 years, during which time he garnered more attention than even the most photogenic celebrity for deftly avoiding the Hollywood spotlight. This is his story.
P-22: Early Years
The P-22 was born around 2010 in the western half of the Santa Monica Mountains. His father, P-001, was the first mountain lion to be captured and studied in the Los Angeles area. To this day, the identity of P-22’s mother remains unknown. P-22 managed to stay out of the sight of conservation experts until 2012, when a camera trap set up by the Griffith Park Connectivity Study captured him. At the time, experts estimated that P-22 was 1.5 years old and weighed about 90 pounds. In March 2012, National Park Service biologists captured it and fitted it with a GPS radio collar. They named him “P-22”. The “P” comes from “Puma,” another name for a mountain lion, and the “22” refers to his rank in the ongoing NPS Cougar Study.
To this day, experts and fans alike marvel at how the P-22 found its way into Griffith Park. No one knows for sure how he managed to make the trip from the Santa Monica Mountains to downtown Los Angeles, a trip that meant the P-22 had to cross two major highways, the 405 and 101. Given that cougars are often unable to navigate such intersections, just crossing one represents an incredible achievement. To pass both exams, especially at such a young age, is almost unbelievable.
P-22: Rise to Fame
The discovery of a cougar living near the Hollywood sign has garnered national attention.los angeles times In August 2012 there was a front page story about the P-22. Photographer Steve Winter set out to capture the P-22 because the original tracking camera footage only gave viewers a glimpse of his backside. Winter spent 15 months setting up camera traps in Griffith Park, trying to get the perfect shot. He finally hit the ground running in late 2013, when his now iconic image of the P-22 appeared in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic. The images and accompanying stories only elevate the P-22 to greater popularity.
Over the next few years, the P-22 made headlines several times for its antics. In 2014, he contracted mange, a parasitic skin disease, after being exposed to rat poison. NPS agents then captured P-22 and treated the disease with topical medication and vitamin K injections. The following year, P-22 prowled the Los Feliz neighborhood bordering Griffith Park. The situation sparked a media frenzy as local officials tried to figure out a way to get him out. P-22 came under scrutiny in 2016 after the tragic death of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo. Zookeepers found the koala’s partial body about 400 yards from its enclosure when P-22 was found in the area. However, P-22 was never fully involved in crime.
In November 2022, NPS and CDFW agents learned that P-22 had killed a tethered Chihuahua in the Hollywood Hills. The beating shocked agents and the public because it was the first time a mountain lion had attacked a pet on a leash in the Los Angeles area. Two weeks later, P-22 attacked another Chihuahua, which survived bloodily through the intervention of its owner. Nearby witnesses managed to capture part of both attacks on camera, and several other cameras and video recordings from the area around Griffith Park managed to glimpse a glimpse over a three-week time span from mid-November to early December. over him. This unusual and brazen behavior caught the attention of the authorities and gave them reason to think that something might be wrong with the P-22.
December 8dayIn 2022, the CDFW announced its intention to capture P-22 to assess his health. A few days later, CDFW agents found P-22 in the backyard of a Los Feliz homeowner. After sedating him, agents took him to the Los Angeles Zoo and then to the San Diego Zoo for evaluation and treatment. Initial examination revealed that P-22 had thinning fur, was significantly underweight, and had a possible injury to his right eye from a car accident. Doctors at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park performed additional tests and found that P-22 had a fractured skull and a herniated abdominal organ. Additionally, doctors discovered that P-22 had stage 2 kidney failure, heart disease, and a parasitic skin infection. Given the seriousness of these circumstances, the authorities decided to euthanize P-22. December 17dayAt 9 AM 2022, P-22 was euthanized.
The death of P-22 sparked grief among Californians and fans around the world. Local representatives released a statement mourning his passing and praising his focus on conservation efforts. During his lifetime, the P-22 inspired several projects, including the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, a pedestrian bridge across Highway 101 that would allow future cougars to enter Griffith Park instead of walking Dangerous crossing attempted by P-22.
P-22 lived in Griffith Park, which covers just 9 square miles, for nearly a decade. Given that the average male mountain lion can control a territory of as much as 300 square miles, this represents an incredible example of survival and adaptation. In his 12 years, P-22 has probably never mated, and he has never known the company of other cougars except for a short time after birth. He lives on an island surrounded by danger, forced to eke out a living on a barren land. Despite these obstacles, he succeeded, and has since become a folk legend.
- Mountain Lions in California: What You Need to Know
- What is the cougar population around Los Angeles?
- How dangerous are cougars?
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
Leave a Reply