P22, 1st Ld
Date: 12-18-2022 12:28 PM - Word Count: 1961

P22, 1st Ld
   Memorial Hike Planned at Griffith Park for Iconic Mountain Lion P-22
   Eds: Re-ledes with memorial hike planned at 4 p.m. at Charlie Turner
Trailhead, 2840 W. Observatory Road. Contact: contactCD4@lacity.org. Photo can
be found at www.nps.gov/samo/learn/news/statement-on-p-22-from-santa-monica-
mountains-national-recreation-area.htm. Jordan Traverso, CDFW, can be reached
at 916-212-7352 or jordan.traverso@wildlife.ca.gov; Ashton Hooker, Santa Monica
Mountains National Recreation Area, is at samo_newsmedia@nps.gov.
   LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A memorial sunset hike was planned at Griffith
Park today to celebrate the life of P-22, the iconic Los Angeles mountain lion
who was euthanized Saturday due to severe injuries suffered in a likely
automobile accident.
   The local community was invited to participate in the hike, which was
set to begin at 4 p.m. at Charlie Turner Trailhead, 2840 W. Observatory Road,
according to City Councilwoman Nithya Raman's office.
   The puma, who became the face of an international effort to save
California's endangered mountain lion population, was widely mourned following
the news of his death, several days after he was captured in a Los Feliz
backyard and found to be injured, severely underweight and suffering from other
   ``RIP P-22,'' community organizer Christian La Mont tweeted Saturday.
``He wasn't just a big cat. He was a symbol of resistance. Resistance to the
idea that LA has no wildlife, to development in his own backyard, to dwindling
numbers of mountain lions in SoCal. He lived his 9 cat lives to the fullest &
captured our hearts.''
   Karen Tongson called P-22 ``the last, true Hollywood celeb. Thanks for
putting up with all of humanity's bull---. I'm sorry we couldn't do right
by you in the end.''
   Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
announced Saturday morning that P-22 had been ``compassionately euthanized''
after a comprehensive medical evaluation showed he had ``several severe
injuries and chronic health problems.''
   ``This really hurts,'' CDFW Director Chuck Bonham said, fighting back
tears. ``It's been an incredibly difficult several days, and for myself, I felt
the entire weight of the city of Los Angeles on my shoulders.''
   Bonham said that after consultation with several veterinary experts,
the decision was made to humanely euthanize the animal at San Diego Zoo Safari
Park, where he was being treated, to spare him further suffering.
   The lion, one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National
Park Service researchers, gained fame locally for his persistence and
durability, successfully managing to cross both the San Diego (405) and
Hollywood (101) freeways to reach his recent roaming grounds in the Griffith
Park area.
   ``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 CDFW said in a
   Known as the ``Hollywood Cat,'' P-22 became the face of the NPS' lion-
tracking effort. His exploits were documented in various media accounts,
including the freeway crossings, hiding out under a Los Feliz home in a
standoff that drew widespread attention and even being named a suspect in the
killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.
   He was believed to be about 11 or 12 years old, making him the oldest
cat in the NPS' study of Southland lions. He is believed to have been born in
the Santa Monica Mountains, somehow finding his way to his tiny, nine-square-
mile home in Griffith Park, separated from his birth area by two of the busiest
freeways in the world.
   Defying expectations, he persisted for more than 10 years in the
smallest home range that has ever been recorded for an adult male mountain
   He was initially captured and outfitted with a tracking collar in
2012. At the time of his last capture, he weighed 123 pounds.
   Officials again noted the facial injury Saturday, but said the most
serious issue was a herniation of the lion's abdominal organs into his chest,
along with significant pre-existing illnesses that were causing him to
deteriorate, including ``irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss,
extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized
   Bowman noted that evidence suggests P-22 could have been struck by a
vehicle Sunday evening, though that hasn't been definitively confirmed.
   A memorial service was planned for the animal sometime after the
holidays, but no specific details were announced. P-22 will receive a post-
mortem examination, and will contribute to multiple research studies before
returning to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, according to CDFW Senior
Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford.
   Officials hope the completion of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife
Crossing project near Agoura Hills will dramatically improve conditions for the
region's sparse mountain lion population. The crossing will span over 10 lanes
of the Ventura (101) Freeway in Liberty Canyon when completed in 2025, and aims
to provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the
Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to
the north.
   ``Mountain lion P-22 was more than just a celebrity cat. He was also a
critical part of a long-term research study and a valuable ambassador for
the cause of connectivity and for wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains and
beyond,'' according to a statement from the Santa Monica Mountains National
Recreation Area.
   `` ... Although he made frequent appearances on the streets of the
Hollywood Hills and even, more recently, of the Silver Lake neighborhood, he
was also clearly a wild cat, doing so mostly late at night, and subsisting
largely on natural prey such as deer and coyotes.
   ``In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos' hearts and home
surveillance camera footage,'' the statement continued. ``...This animal's life
and safe passage to Griffith Park are a testament to both the challenges and
the possibilities for wildlife in Los Angeles. He showed us what mountain lions
must do to survive in our urban landscape, as he dispersed through it to find a
remaining island of habitat.
   ``He also showed us what they are capable of: surviving and co-
existing with millions of people in a city as dense and sprawling as Los
   Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose father was a founder of the Mountain Lion
Foundation and championed protections for the species, said 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. 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.''
   ``This is a hard chapter to close,'' Friends of Griffith Park
President Gerry Hans said. ``It was FoGP that `discovered' P-22 and introduced
him to the world. For a year, we were capturing images of deer, coyote and
bobcats. None of our scientists ever imagined getting an image of a mountain
lion. But there he was. February 12, 2012, 9:15 p.m. ... Griffith Park gave P-
22 everything a solitary cat needed: food, shelter and a place to roam, even
though the 4,300 acres of the park is an incredibly small territory for a
mountain lion.''
   Beth Pratt, California regional executive director for the National
Wildlife Federation, also issued an emotional eulogy for P-22, marveling that
``a mountain lion lived here, right here in Los Angeles.''
   Pratt shared her experience of meeting the animal shortly before his
   ``I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to say goodbye to P-22.
Although I have advocated for his protection for a decade, we had never met
before,'' she wrote. ``I sat near him, looking into his eyes for a few minutes,
and told him he was a good boy. I told him how much I loved him. How much the
world loved him. And I told him I was so sorry that we did not make the world a
safer place for him. I apologized that despite all I and others who cared for
him did, we failed him.
   `` ... P-22 never fully got to be a mountain lion. His whole life, he
suffered the consequences of trying to survive in unconnected space, right to
the end when being hit by a car led to his tragic end. He showed people around
the world that we need to ensure our roads, highways, and communities are
better and safer when people and wildlife can freely travel to find food,
shelter, and families. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing would not have
been possible without P-22, but the most fitting memorial to P-22 will be how
we carry his story forward in the work ahead. One crossing is not enough -- we
must build more, and we must continue to invest in proactive efforts to protect
and conserve wildlife and the habitats they depend on -- even in urban areas.
   ``P-22's journey to and life in Griffith Park was a miracle,'' Pratt
continued. ``It's my hope that future mountain lions will be able to walk in
the steps of P-22 without risking their lives on California's highways and
streets. We owe it to P-22 to build more crossings and connect the habitats
where we live now.''
   Decades of road construction and development have been deadly for
animals trying to cross freeways, and have created islands of habitat that have
genetically isolated wildlife from bobcats to birds and lizards.
   Wildlife advocates hope the crossing can save the threatened local
population of mountain lions from extinction. They've also characterized the
future structure as ``a global model for urban wildlife conservation'' that
will ``benefit the wildlife and ecology of the area for generations to come.''
   The $85 million project will be the largest crossing of its kind in
the world, stretching 210 feet over the freeway. More information about the
campaign to help the mountain lions can be found at https://savelacougars.org/.
   Officials at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County said
they planned to update ``The Story of P-22, L.A.'s Most Famous Feline,'' a
permanent exhibit that debuted in 2017, in the coming year, with added stories,
programs and more. The museum also recently debuted a P-22 marionette that
allows a performing artist team to further bring his story to life.
   ``On behalf of everyone at NHMLAC, we are very saddened by the loss of
P-22, an iconic ambassador for wildlife in Los Angeles,'' said Miguel
Ordeñana, Senior Manager of Community Science at the museum. ``His passing is a
painful moment, but we are so thankful for how he created a better
understanding of the coexistence of urban wildlife, humans and L.A.'s
biodiversity. His story is a catalyst for change, inspiring conservation
efforts, including the 101 freeway wildlife crossing and much more.
   ``Even in his death, P-22 continues to inspire L.A. to embrace urban
wildlife conservation and the nature that surrounds us,'' Ordeñana said.
``NHMLAC will continue to share his story, and honor and preserve his legacy
for generations to come.''
   CDFW officials paid tribute to P-22 as a great ambassador for his
species and one of the driving forces behind the effort to complete the freeway
   ``He's never going to be forgotten and he can't be forgotten,'' Bonham
said. ``We put him in this predicament.''
   Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-12-18-2022 12:28