Why Los Angeles’ P-22 Mountain Lion Was Euthanized

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P-22, the mountain lion known as the “Cat of Hollywood,” was euthanized Saturday, leaving Angelenos to mourn the famous feline.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) made the announcement, saying they and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park team ran extensive tests on P-22, and learned that a combination of health problems and injuries led to the mountain lion’s fate.

“The extensive evaluation included a physical exam, organ function tests, infectious disease screening, ultrasonography and computed tomography (CT) scans of the skull, chest and abdomen,” officials from the CDFW said.

There had been suspicion that P-22 may have been hit by a vehicle after being caught in a residential back yard in Los Feliz. The Safari Park wildlife team’s evaluation revealed signs of “significant” trauma to P-22 head, right eye and internal organs, determining the injuries to be consistent with that of a vehicle accident.

“The trauma to his internal organs would require invasive surgical repair,” the CDFW added.

The thorough evaluation also uncovered that P-22 was suffering from irreversible kidney disease, as well as other illnesses such as chronic weight loss, localized arthritis and a parasitic skin infection that covered the entirety of its body.

Los Angeles mourned the death of P-22 Saturday, with not only local officials sharing their sadness, but state officials, as well, with Governor Gavin Newsom calling the cat “iconic,” and highlighting measures that were taken to try and prevent the type of injuries that P-22 may have suffered. The state had previously passed legislature to allocate $100 million toward wildlife crossings, as well as passing the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, which asked Caltrans to address issues with wildlife corridors.

“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,” Governor Newsom said. “The iconic mountain lion’s incredible journey helped inspire a new era of conserving and reconnecting nature, including through the world’s largest wildlife overpass in Liberty Canyon. With innovative coalitions and strategies to restore vital habitat across the state, we’ll continue working to protect California’s precious natural heritage for generations to come.”

The mountain lion was first discovered in 2012, with non-profit wildlife organization, Friends of Griffith Park, capturing a photo of P-22 and making the world aware that the cougar had made its home in Griffith.

“This is a hard chapter to close,” Friends of Griffith Park president Gerry Hans said in a statement. “He came to represent the wilderness that still exists in Griffith Park and how wild animals can co-exist with human beings in an urban setting. He taught us that wildlife, even top predators, have their place in nature, even alongside the people of this large city. P-22 did that for more than 10 years.”

It is believed that P-22 first resided in the Santa Monica Mountains and made a 50-mile trek before calling Griffith Park home.

A memorial hike was organized by Los Angeles City Councilmember Nithya Raman, as dozens of Angelenos gathered at Charlie Turner Trailhead, donning P-22 shirts and sweaters, paying their respects to the cougar.

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