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P-22, famous mountain lion recently captured, euthanized by Fish and Wildlife

Fate of famed mountain lion, P-22, still undetermined after capture, euthanasia possible
Fate of famed mountain lion, P-22, still undetermined after capture, euthanasia possible 01:54

P-22, the popular mountain lion often referred to as the "Hollywood Cat" or Los Angeles's favorite feline, has been "compassionately" euthanized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after veterinarians determined the big cat had too many severe injuries and chronic health problems.

Best known for its time roaming through the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park area, P-22 was captured in Los Feliz on Dec. 12 after a series of incidents that saw the big cat attack several pet animals and a woman. 

The attacks by P-22 hinted that the mountain lion had been in distress, according to Fish and Wildlife. 

"This really hurts," CDFW Director Chuck Bonham said Saturday morning, holding 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."

"The results of these tests and screenings showed significant trauma to the mountain lion's head, right eye and internal organs, confirming the suspicion of recent injury, such as a vehicle strike," Fish and Wildlife said in a statement released Saturday, highlighting P-22's grave condition.

He was found to be suffering from a herniation of his abdominal organs into his chest, along with significant pre-existing illnesses that were causing him to deteriorate. Those illnesses included "irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized arthritis."

After being captured, P-22 underwent an extensive amount of tests, including an ultrasonography and CT scans of the skull, chest and abdomen.   

Ultimately, the results from those tests led to the decision to euthanize P-22. He was humanely euthanized at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where he was being treated.

"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," said 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 on natural prey such as deer and coyotes."

P-22 had made headlines in recent weeks for apparent attacks on a pair of dogs. The cat was blamed for killing a leashed dog in the Hollywood Hills and attacking another a week ago in the Silver Lake area.  

Researchers believe that the cougar was born in the Santa Monica Mountains, somehow making its way to his nine-square mile home in Griffith Park. He originally rose to local fame his ability to successfully cross both the 405 and 101 Freeways to reach the area. They believe that he lived in the area for more than 10 years, in what they have called the smallest home range ever recorded for an adult male mountain lion. 

He is believed to have been 11 or 12 years old, which makes him the oldest cat studied by the National Park Service. Initially captured in 2012, P-22 was fitted with a collar, which allowed researchers to track his movements. 

""In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos' hearts and home surveillance camera footage," the statement from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area 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 Angeles."

After news of his death, a number of prominent figures extended their emotional regards for the celebrity big cat. 

Governor Gavin Newsom, whose father was a founder of the Mountain Lion Foundation, issued a statement that read: 

"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."

Congressman Adam Schiff, who has represented California's 28th congressional district since 2013, also issued a lengthy release, which read in part:

"I am heartbroken by the news of P-22's passing. P-22 was many things: our favorite celebrity neighbor, the occasional troublemaker, and a beloved mascot for our city. But most of all, he was a magnificent and wild creature, who reminded us all that we are part of a natural world so much greater than ourselves. Even in Los Angeles. ... The sun may have set on his reign as King of Griffith Park – but he will always be a prince of our hearts. Thank you for gracing us with your presence, pranks, and magnificence over the years. You will be dearly missed, and never forgotten."

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