Today I’d like to honor some of the world’s larger cats—in particular the cougar—in particular one cougar, P-22, as he is the cat that changed America (title of book and film—Tony Lee Moral)
P-22 was born sometime in 2009 or 2010 in the Griffith Park area of the Santa Monica Mountains (California). He lived there with around a dozen other mountain lions for the rest of his life.
He was first identified in 2012 and fitted with a radio collar, and he became one of the few mountain lions that have successfully crossed 2 major Los Angeles highways to a larger wild life area and back again. It’s reported that 17 of these majestic animals born in that area have been killed on local roadways between 2002 and 2017.
P-22 became the ambassador for the mountain lions in the area, inspiring books and films and the development of a wildlife overpass so the lions can more safely roam outside of the limited area where they were born. In fact there’s even a P-22 Day set aside to celebrate this mountain lion and all the others in the area. This celebration occurs in October.
Life wasn’t all roses for P-22, also known as Hollywood Cat. In 2015 he was caught and treated for a serious case of mange. He fully recovered.
At one point they think it was P-22 that killed a koala in the Griffith Park Zoo. Rather than take action against the lion, zoo officials opted to create more secure enclosures for some of their more vulnerable animals.
Fast forward to 2022. There began to be mountain lion sightings reported in neighborhoods. Small dogs were being attacked. Something was wrong. They caught P-22 on camera roaming these neighborhoods and captured him to see if they could discover why he was demonstrating this behavior. Those who had been faithfully following this majestic animal hoped for the best, but feared the worst.
Last week, after thorough examinations, it was discovered that the now 12-year-old cougar had probably been hit by a car. He had some injuries and he was experiencing poor health, and an unhealthy mountain lion can be a danger to citizens and small animals and himself. A preserve was one option for P-22, and so was euthanasia. With this famous Hollywood Cat now elderly (the life expectancy is 8 to 13 years) and in poor health, it was decided that euthanasia was probably the most humane option.
RIP P-22, Hollywood Cat. May your image and your memory continue to be an inspiration for the future of the Griffith Park mountain lions.