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P-22 buried at secret location in Santa Monica Mountains

P-22 Celebration of Life Ceremony held at Greek Theatre
P-22 Celebration of Life Ceremony held at Greek Theatre 03:04

More than two months after his death, the Southland's most famous mountain lion, P-22, has been buried at an undisclosed location in the Santa Monica Mountains, a wildlife official said Monday.

According to Beth Pratt, California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation, the lion was "laid to rest" in a private ceremony arranged in conjunction with local tribal leaders, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the National Park Service.

"The burial location will not be revealed to protect and preserve the site," Pratt said in a statement.

She said P-22 was buried in a "beautiful and moving ceremony that showed such reverence and respect for this remarkable animal."

"The affecting songs and tributes helped me achieve some measure of peace, although I struggled the entire time to hold it together and wasn't always successful," Pratt said. "I can also imagine P-22 at peace now, with such a powerful and caring send-off to the next place. As we laid him to rest, a red-tailed hawk flew overhead and called loudly, perhaps there to help him on his journey."

Known as "The Hollywood Cat," P-22 was euthanized Dec. 17 after being examined by wildlife officials who captured him following recent signs of distress, including a series of attacks on pet dogs in the area.

The lion was one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National Park Service researchers. His exploits were documented in various media accounts, most notably for successfully crossing both the 405 and 101 freeways, making his home in the Griffith Park area.

He was believed to be about 11 or 12 years old, making him the oldest cat in the NPS' study of Southland lions. Likely born in the Santa Monica Mountains, P-22 somehow found 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 lion.

P-22's life was celebrated at a February event at the Greek Theatre. But questions lingered about what would be done with the lion's remains. The body was initially taken to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but local tribal leaders -- who consider cougars to be sacred -- objected to suggestions the lion be placed on display at the museum, arguing instead that he be buried in Griffith Park.

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