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Griffith Park Mountain Lion P-22 Suspected of Killing Koala at Los Angeles Zoo

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Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 is the prime suspect in the mauling death of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo, officials said Thursday.

Photos posted Dec. 3, 2014, show P-22 looking healthy and strong. (Credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

Photos posted Dec. 3, 2014, show P-22 looking healthy and strong. (Credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

Portions of Killarney's body -- a 14-year-old female koala -- were located after she went missing from her habitat one week ago, on March 3, zoo officials said in a statement Thursday.

Killarney's body was mauled, and parts were located some 400 feet away from the habitat, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Realizing something must have carried the koala, officials who work at the zoo -- which is located inside Griffith Park -- went through surveillance footage.

Although the actual attack was not captured on camera, P-22 was spotted in the area the night before Killarney went missing.

"There is no definite photo or video evidence that P-22, the mountain lion that lives in Griffith Park, was the cause of her disappearance, but the mountain lion was seen on zoo surveillance footage on grounds the night before she died," zoo officials said.

Killarney had been at the L.A. Zoo since May 2010, and 10 koalas remain.

Her death is still being investigated, and in the meantime other precautions are being taken to protect animals at the zoo, said Barbara Romero, deputy mayor for City Services, in a statement.

"Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen when we have a zoo in such close proximity to one of the largest urban parks in the country,” Romero said. “The koalas have been removed from their public habitats for now and other animals are being moved to their night quarters when the zoo closes."

P-22's ability to access the zoo didn't surprise National Park Service Ranger Kate Kuykendall, who said in addition to the mountain lion, numerous bobcats and coyotes lived nearby.

“It’s a sad situation, but an important reminder to everyone that many of us live or work in habitat for mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats, and we need to protect our animals,” she said.

Pets should be kept inside safe enclosures or brought inside at night, Kuykendall advised.

The Los Angeles Zoo is pictured. (Credit: Google Street View)

The Los Angeles Zoo is pictured. (Credit: Google Street View)

“If we don’t do that, we’re not really coexisting with wildlife and it does make them vulnerable," she said.

Regardless of whether P-22 killed the koala, City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell believes the situation “emphasizes the need to contemplate relocating” the beloved mountain lion.

"P-22 is maturing, will continue to wander, and runs the risk of a fatal freeway crossing as he searches for a mate. As much as we love P-22 at Griffith Park, we know the park is not ultimately suitable for him. We should consider resettling him in the environment he needs," he told the Times in statement.

City Councilman Davis Ryu came out against the idea of relocating P-22 saying, "it is crucial to identify solutions to co-exist."

“The incident at the Los Angeles Zoo is incredibly unfortunate; however, relocating P22 would not be in the best interest of protecting our wildlife species. Mountain lions are a part of the natural habitat of Griffith Park and the adjacent hillsides,” Ryu said in a statement.

P-22 — who received national attention when National Geographic photographer Steve Winter captured an image of him with the Hollywood sign as its backdrop — has had a contentious stay in the Griffith Park area.

Last year the 150-pound puma spent more than a day hiding underneath a Los Feliz home, and in January, newly captured images of P-22 showed him looking healthier after photos two years prior showed him apparently suffering from mange because of possible exposure to rat poison.

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