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Celebration of life for famed mountain lion P-22 fills Greek Theatre

ABC 7 Los Angeles 2/5/2023 City News Service

P-22 -- the late, beloved and resilient L.A. mountain lion who famously crossed two major freeways and became known as "The Hollywood Cat" -- got another star when the National Wildlife Federation's #SaveLACougars campaign held a sold-out celebration of his life at the Greek Theatre.

The two-hour celebration featured a wide array of people who, over the years, made connections with P-22 during his years of roaming Griffith Park, where he made his home after navigating his way across the 405 and 101 freeways.

"P-22 was many things: our favorite celebrity neighbor, the occasional troublemaker, and a beloved mascot for our city," Schiff, Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, wrote in a letter to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee.

"His exploits were followed not just by ordinary community members, but he had a devoted following online, and his comings and goings were even tracked by the local news. 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."

They're calling for a stamp depicting P-22 in front of the Hollywood sign -- a nod to that landmark's 100th anniversary.

P-22 was euthanized Dec. 17 after being examined by wildlife officials who captured the cat 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, including his daring freeway crossings, hiding out under a Los Feliz home in a standoff that drew widespread attention -- and even being named a suspect in the killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.

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.

He was initially captured and outfitted with a tracking collar in 2012. At the time of his last capture, he weighed 123 pounds. After he was captured last month, wildlife experts said P-22 had facial injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle.

Experts ultimately made the decision to humanely euthanize the animal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where he was being treated, to spare him further suffering.

"P-22's advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life- shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome," according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The cat's remains have since been taken to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but exactly what will be done with them remains unknown.

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