P-22, the famous Griffith Park mountain lion, was euthanized Saturday morning after wildlife experts determined the animal was suffering from serious health problems.
The mountain lion was trapped in the backyard of a home in Los Feliz on Monday, December 12, and was taken to a wildlife care facility for a full health evaluation after several recent attacks on domestic dogs, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He was severely underweight and injured.
The agency said at the time the cougar may have shown signs of stress and would not be released back to Griffith Park.
P-22’s rise to prominence skyrocketed in 2013 after a now-iconic photo series by National Geographic photographer Steve Winter photographed the big cat in front of the Hollywood sign and dubbed it the “Hollywood Cat.”
But the mountain lion was first identified in 2012 by one of the wildlife cameras from the Griffith Park Connectivity Study.
The park’s conservation efforts had documented wildlife crossing over one of the Hollywood Freeway flybridges at Cahuenga Pass. Scrolling through hundreds of motion-triggered photos, wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeñana was in awe when he came across images of the then three-year-old mountain lion perched on a rugged ridge just above the Ford Theater.
The discovery of the puma went down in history as the first photographic evidence of a mountain lion roaming the 4,300-acre Griffith Park.
In the years that followed, he became a symbol of the NPS’ wildlife conservation efforts and mountain lion tracking efforts, with books, television series and murals paying tribute to the big cat.
P-22, now one of many in Southern California tracked by National Park Service researchers, usually stuck to its small territory of about six square miles in the park, but gained additional notoriety among wildlife experts after successfully making both to cross both the 405 and the 101 freeways to reach his hiking area.
In 2014, during a return capture to replace the batteries in his GPS tracking collar, the cat was found to be suffering from mange and exposure to poison from eating animals caught in rodent traps. He was treated and returned to Griffith Park where he continued to successfully hunt his natural prey of mule deer, although experts at the time feared he would ever fully recover.
Two years later, he became the prime suspect in the killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo. In recent months, authorities said, he killed a Chihuahua on a leash with its owner near Hollywood Reservoir and reportedly attacked and injured another Chihuahua in Silver Lake.
This story evolves.