P-22, celebrity mountain lion of Los Angeles, is dead
By April Rubin
A mountain lion celebrated in the Los Angeles community and who helped to inspire an urban wildlife project was euthanized Saturday, officials said.
The animal, known as P-22, was put down because of health issues that included kidney failure, heart disease, chronic weight loss and a parasitic skin infection, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Saturday.
P-22’s most severe injuries came after he was hit by a car this month. For a decade, he had evaded cars, including crossings of a 10-lane freeway.
The authorities captured P-22 on Monday after he appeared agitated and attacked two dogs, killing one of them.
“P-22’s advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life-shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome,” the department said.
Estimated to be 12 years old, the mountain lion was considered old for his breed, wildlife officials said. P-22 was most likely born on the western side of the Santa Monica Mountains but lived most of his life in Griffith Park and amassed a social media following, with more than 10,000 followers on Instagram.
The park, while being the largest urban-wilderness municipal park in the United States, was small for an animal like P-22, although he made it home. The park recently hosted a celebration to honor the 10 years since P-22 — the 22nd puma in a study to get a tracking collar — was found.
P-22 was one of the animals that inspired the construction of a wildlife crossing bridge on the 101 Freeway, Brenda Rees, who is on the executive board of the Friends of Griffith Park, said Monday.
“To see this happen kind of is a reminder of why we need connectivity in Southern California,” Rees said after P-22’s capture. “We need animals being able to go from one area to the other and not feel locked in the kind of confines he was in Griffith Park.”
The project is meant to give large animals such as mountain lions the freedom to move without interacting with the urban space around them.
“P-22’s survival on an island of wilderness in the heart of Los Angeles captivated people around the world and revitalized efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
P-22 was one of the oldest mountain lions that the National Park Service has been researching since 2002, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Data collected from his patterns of movement will continue to be analyzed.
“Goodbye, P-22,” the recreation area said. “Your scientific legacy will live on.”
Beth Pratt, executive director of the California regional center of the National Wildlife Federation, said she had considered herself P-22’s friend and spokesperson.
“I was so sorry that we did not make the world a safer place for him,” she said Saturday.