It’s no secret that P-22 is LA’s favorite feline—and arguably one of the city’s most famous mountain lions. Now, our beloved cat will no longer reign the Los Angeles wild.
For over a decade, the feline has been a local sensation. If you haven’t spotted him in person, chances are you’ve seen him in plushie form, referenced in TV shows like This Fool, or painted in murals around the city.
“Never has a mountain lion lived in such an urban setting in one of the world’s most populated cities,” said Beth Pratt National Wildlife Federation, California Regional Executive Director, and leader of #SaveLACougars Campaign. “He is also a remarkably old mountain lion, living well past the normal life expectancy of his kind, and may now be exhibiting signs of distress.”
Concerns for P-22’s well-being grew after two recent dog attacks in a residential neighborhood. A sign of desperation and hunger, which is unusual behavior for P-22 according to Jeff Sikich, National Park Service wildlife biologist.
“We don’t know the cause for his sudden change in behavior, but we appreciate the support of the community during this challenging time,” expressed Pratt. “Our hearts go out to the pets and people that in P-22’s distress have been impacted. We acknowledge that these interactions are traumatic for the individuals involved and their lived experiences should not be minimized.”
On Monday two state and federal agencies teamed up to catch P-22 to bring him in for a health evaluation. He was successfully tranquilized and captured in a local resident’s backyard.
“P-22 is in stable condition and being evaluated by top biologists and veterinarians and we will update you on his condition as soon we know more,” said Pratt.
Over the years, P-22 has defied odds in more ways than one by surviving in an urban setting. In 2022 alone, seven tracked mountain lions have died. Five being hit by cars, which included a female known as P-54, who was pregnant with four cougar cubs. P-22 is currently 12 years old, following in his father P-1’s footsteps, as one of the oldest Southern California mountain lions to be studied.
“[He] means so much to so many,” stated Pratt. “There is a team dedicated to his safe keeping and making sure he has the best care and options for this next phase of his journey.”
P-22’s examination revealed there was trauma to his “head, right eye and internal organs, confirming the suspicion of recent injury, such as a vehicle strike.” It also revealed a pre-existing illnesses, such as “irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized arthritis.”
On Saturday, December 17, 2022 was “compassionately euthanized” according to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife due to his serious injuries.
P-22’s legacy as LA’s most beloved mountain lion still lives on.