Beloved mountain lion P-22 was euthanized after likely being hit by a vehicle
A famous mountain lion was euthanized on Saturday morning after game wardens determined it was likely hit by a vehicle.
P-22, a male cougar estimated to be about 12 years old, suffered from “multiple serious injuries and chronic health conditions,” according to a statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A photo of P-22 at Griffith Park in Los Angeles in 2014.
US National Park Service via AP
According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, a mountain lion in the wild is considered “old” after 10 years.
P-22 was drugged Monday in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles for a medical exam. Before his capture, wildlife officials expressed concern that he was “showing signs of distress.” The big cat had also raised concerns after snatching a leashed Chihuahua from a dog walker last month. The dog did not survive.
A stunned P-22 being transported to a veterinarian earlier this week.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP
Vets at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park determined that P-22 had “significant trauma” to his head and internal organs, according to the wildlife department. This confirmed suspicions that he had recently suffered an injury which officials said was likely a vehicle strike. He also had kidney disease, arthritis, and a “widespread” parasitic skin infection. The combination of these conditions and his age led the veterinary team to “unanimously” recommend euthanasia.
P-22 first appeared in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times in its comprehensive obituary of the celebrated feline. Scientists fitted him with a radio collar to study his movements, and he quickly became a local celebrity. His star continued to rise with a story from The Times that year and then a National Geographic profile.
To get to the park from his putative birthplace in the Santa Monica Mountains, P-22 had to cross two dangerous freeways, the 405 and the 101. Although he survived the journey, he was more or less hemmed in by the busy roads and would do had to go back to find a mate. Instead, he roamed the Los Angeles area alone for a decade.
P-22 sticks out its tongue in a 2014 photo taken at Griffith Park.
National park service via AP
When environmentalists proposed a wildlife bridge over the 101 to help animals cross the freeway, P-22 became the face of the project. Construction of the bridge began in April, the Times noted.
He also became the poster child for efforts to ban rodenticides after falling ill following an exposure to rat poison in 2014.
P-22, who suffered from mange in 2014, left and after recovering in 2015. Wildlife officials believed his overall poor health in the earlier photo was related to exposure to rat poison.
P-22 fans mourned his loss, and conservationists hoped that even after his death he would continue to drive change to protect mountain lions from threats such as vehicle attacks.
“My heart breaks for P-22,” said JP Rose, the policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Urban Wildlands program, in a statement sent to HuffPost. “I hope we can put that sadness into action to live safely with and protect mountain lions, which are endangered in Southern California.”