California is known for a lot of things, and not all of them are positive. But there was one interesting creature that many within and without the state enjoyed following — P-22. P-22 is one of the oldest consistently tracked mountain lions in southern California and was believed to be around 12 years old, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was as well-mannered as a mountain lion could be living in an increasingly urban area, mostly minding his own business. For years he inhabited the Griffith Park area and became the “poster child” for an international effort to protect the declining numbers of California mountain lions and create wildlife bridges to allow animals to safely cross dangerous roadways. But over the past month, P-22 started to behave in odd, concerning ways and in manners that suggested he might be experiencing distress or some sort of illness. He attacked three dogs and had several unusually close encounters with people in the Los Feliz and Silver Lake areas. On the evening of Dec. 11, an anonymous caller informed authorities that they had hit a mountain lion near Griffith Park while driving, and P-22’s collar confirmed he had been in the area at the time. On Dec. 12, officials were able to track the large cat to a Los Feliz backyard and capture him, so they could evaluate him and see what injuries he had sustained. The cat’s fiercest advocates hoped that, at the very least, if his injuries were too severe to let him continue his life in the wild, he could at least live out his days in comfort and care at a sanctuary. Sadly for the big cat, the injuries from the car accident were just the beginning of a long list of health issues he’d been dealing with. The cat had lost 25 percent of its body weight, weighing only 90 pounds at the time of its capture. He had a fractured skull, torn diaphragm, and herniated organs, and his right eye had been damaged, according to San Diego Zoo’s Vice President of Wildlife Health Dr. Hendrik Nollens.
WARNING: The following posts contain images of a tranquilized animal that some readers may find disturbing.In addition, P-22 had parasites, a thinning coat, and heart, liver and kidney disease. Because of how poor the cat’s condition was, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize the famed cougar. “This really hurts, and I know that,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s been an incredibly difficult several days. And for myself, I’ve felt the entire weight of the city of Los Angeles.” Bonham said he hoped that P-22 had his best day on Saturday, which was his last day, rather than being allowed to suffer and decline until he finally passed. “It was a tough decision,” said Beth Pratt, a regional executive director in California for the National Wildlife Federation. “It was the right decision. This animal did not deserve to suffer.” “Mountain lion P-22 was more than just a celebrity cat. He was also a critical part of a long-term research study and a valuable ambassador for the cause of connectivity and for wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains and beyond,” the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared, according to KTLA. “In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos’ hearts and home surveillance camera footage.” Many people have taken to social media to share their sadness over the loss of the iconic cat and remember the cat’s glory days, proving just how much of an impact the mountain lion had made. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.