Thinker's Chronicle

The Mountain Lion of Legend: P-22

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P-22, the celebrity mountain lion of Los Angeles, was recently euthanized after discovering he was suffering from several diseases. Certain unusual behaviors had alerted professionals to these illnesses and he was soon captured and put to sleep.

An unusual origin

The large cat had gone through many trials beginning with getting into LA. Even from the start, he was an unusual puma, and his adventures originated when he crossed both the 405 freeway and the 101 freeway. Only nine other pumas have managed to cross even just the 101 freeway. The mountain lion’s fame spread like wildfire after the iconic photo of the puma was taken in front of the Hollywood sign. Furthermore, P-22 had inspired a project that might be the savior of any in his species: Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor. 

Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor

Pumas stuck in the Santa Monica Mountains are now inbreeding due to urban development sealing them inside. This project resorts to creating the largest wildlife bridge that will be finished by 2025 and P-22 was its mascot. Beth Pratt, regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, had stated that “I just kept thinking of P-22. I honored a promise to him. We gave this mountain lion population a shot.”

An end to an adventurous life

The famous mountain lion’s death was caused by a plethora of injuries, but the biggest ones “resulted from him being hit by a car last week” says Pratt. Other diseases took a toll on him too. For example, in 2014, he was exposed to rat poisoning, something many thought would be the death of him. While it did not, it foreshadowed the other illnesses he would receive such as “stage two kidney failure… a hernia causing abdominal organs to fill his chest cavity, an extensive case of demodex gatoi (a parasitic skin infection likely transmitted from domestic cats), [and] heart disease.”

Authorities figured out that there was a problem after P-22 began attacking three pets and two humans––unusual activity for a puma. Instead of letting the mountain lion needlessly suffer through these ailments, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found it more humane to put him down.

Photo Credit: National Geographic

The twelve-year-old puma, P-22 will always be remembered as an icon that unwittingly pushed us to consider how we are affecting the wildlife around us. Furthermore, as Pratt eloquently put in P-22’s eulogy, “I hope his future is filled with endless forests without a car or road in sight and where deer are plentiful, and I hope he finally finds the mate that his island existence denied him his entire life.”

Mihika Rajeev
Mihika Rajeev