Five days after his capture in a Los Feliz backyard, famed mountain lion P-22 has been euthanized, officials announced Saturday.
The cougar was evidently struck by a car near Griffith Park prior to his capture, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
CDFW Director Chuck Bonham said the likely crash was reported Sunday evening. Days before, the famed cougar, believed to be about 12 years old, had been implicated in an attack on a leashed Chihuahua in the Hollywood Hills, the second such incident in a month.
The National Park Service called P-22 their “Hollywood Cat” given his territory of Griffith Park and a famous National Geographic photo of him walking beneath the Hollywood sign.
After his capture on Monday, P-22 was triaged at the Los Angeles Zoo and then taken to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance for care of “traumatic injuries from that presumed vehicle accident,” according to Deana Clifford of the CDFW.
“It became clearer and clearer that there were more health problems than we initially suspected,” she added.
Henrik Nollens of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said those issues included some fractures to his skull bone, injuries to his right eye, skin injuries and herniation of abdominal organs into his chest.
He also had kidney, liver and possibly heart disease, Nollens said, though Clifford said so far, it does not appear P-22 had been poisoned by rodenticide.
Bonham said P-22 was euthanized Saturday morning at about 9 a.m., though the decision moved towards “finality” late Thursday night and Friday morning.
“I’m really sorry for the pain, but I hope people find hope as they move through the pain … Let’s make a difference so the rest of the large animals have a future out there that’s brighter,” Bonham said while fighting back tears.
Tributes immediately poured in for the beloved cat.
“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 … In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos’ hearts and home surveillance camera footage,” read a statement from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the cat for encouraging “innovative coalitions and strategies to restore vital habitat across the state.”
“P-22’s survival on an island of wilderness in the heart of Los Angeles captivated people around the world and revitalized efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” Newsom said in a statement. “The iconic mountain lion’s incredible journey helped inspire a new era of conserving and reconnecting nature, including through the world’s largest wildlife overpass in Liberty Canyon.”
J.P. Rose, policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Urban Wildlands program, said in a statement that “my heart breaks” for the cougar, adding that “this was not the Hollywood ending we wanted.”
“I hope we can channel this grief into action to safely coexist with and protect mountain lions, which are headed toward extinction in Southern California,” Rose said. “Let’s commit to building more crossings, ending rodenticide use and factoring in wildlife connectivity when we allow development in our community.”
After a necropsy, P-22 will be brought back from San Diego to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
“I think that’s a pretty good closure for a life well-lived,” Clifford said.