January 29, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

A Eulogy for P-22, A Mountain Lion Who Changed the World

‘It’s my hope that future mountain lions will be able to walk in the steps of P-22 without risking their lives on California’s highways, streets’

By Beth Pratt/National Wildlife Federation 

“I write this eulogy while looking across one of the ten-lane freeways P-22 somehow miraculously crossed in 2012, gazing at a view of his new home, Griffith Park. Burbank Peak and the other hills that mark the terminus of the Santa Monica Mountains emerge from this urban island like sentinels making a last stand against the second largest city in the country. The traffic noise never ceases. Helicopters fly overhead. The lights of the city give the sky no peace.

“Yet a mountain lion lived here, right here in Los Angeles.

“I can’t finish this sentence without crying because of the past tense. It’s hard to imagine I will be writing about P-22 in the past tense now.

“Biologists and veterinarians with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today they have made the difficult decision to end P-22’s suffering and help him transition peacefully to the next place. 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.

“I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to say goodbye to P-22. Although I have advocated for his protection for a decade, we had never met before. I sat near him, looking into his eyes for a few minutes, and told him he was a good boy. I told him how much I loved him. How much the world loved him. And I told him I was so sorry that we did not make the world a safer place for him. I apologized that despite all I and others who cared for him did, we failed him.

“I don’t have any illusion that my presence or words comforted him. And I left with a great sadness I will carry for the rest of my days.

“Before I said goodbye, I sat in a conference room with team members from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the team of doctors at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The showed me a video of P-22’s CT scan, images of the results, and my despair grew as they outlined the list of serious health issues they had uncovered from all their testing: stage two kidney failure, a weight of 90 pounds (he normally weighs about 125), head and eye trauma, 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), heart disease, and more. The most severe injuries resulted from him being hit by a car last week, and I thought of how terrible it was that this cat, who had managed to evade cars for a decade, in his weakened and desperate condition could not avoid the vehicle strike that sealed his fate.

“As the agency folks and veterinarians relayed these sobering facts to me, tissue boxes were passed around the table and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This team cares just as much for this cat as we all do. They did everything they could for P-22 and deserve our gratitude.

“Although I wished so desperately he could be returned to the wild, or live out his days in a sanctuary, the decision to euthanize our beloved P-22 is the right one. With these health issues, there could be no peaceful retirement, only some managed care existence where we prolonged his suffering — not for his benefit, but for ours.

“Those of us who have pets know how it feels when we receive news from the veterinarian that we don’t want to hear. As a lifelong dog and cat owner, I have been in this dreadful position too many times. The decision to let them go is never easy, but we as humans have the ability, the responsibility, and the selflessness to show mercy to end the suffering for these beloved family members, a compassionate choice we scarcely have for ourselves.

“I look at Griffith Park through the window again and feel the loss so deeply. Whenever I hiked to the Hollywood sign, or strolled down a street in Beachwood Canyon to pick up a sandwich at The Oaks, or walked to my car after a concert at the Greek Theater, the wondrous knowledge that I could encounter P-22 always propelled me into a joyous kind of awe. And I am not alone — his legion of stans hoped for a sight of Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity, the Brad Pitt of the cougar world, on their walks or on their Ring cams, and when he made an appearance, the videos usually went viral. In perhaps the most Hollywood of P-22’s moments, human celebrity Alan Ruck, star of Succession, once reported seeing P-22 from his deck, and shouting at him like a devoted fan would.

“We will all be grappling with the loss of P-22 for some time, trying to make sense of a Los Angeles without this magnificent wild creature. I loved P-22 and hold a deep respect for his intrepid spirit, charm, and just plain chutzpah. We may never see another mountain lion stroll down Sunset Boulevard or surprise customers outside the Los Feliz Trader Joe’s. But perhaps that doesn’t matter — what matters is P-22 showed us it’s possible.

“He changed us.  He changed the way we look at LA. And his influencer status extended around the world, as he inspired millions of people to see wildlife as their neighbors. He made us more human, made us connect more to that wild place in ourselves. We are part of nature and he reminded us of that. Even in the city that gave us Carmeggedon, where we thought wildness had been banished a long time ago, P-22 reminded us it’s still here.

“His legacy to us, and to his kind will never fade. He ensured a future for the entire population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains by inspiring us to build the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which broke ground this spring.

“P-22 never fully got to be a mountain lion. His whole life, he suffered the consequences of trying to survive in unconnected space, right to the end when being hit by a car led to his tragic end. He showed people around the world that we need to ensure our roads, highways, and communities are better and safer when people and wildlife can freely travel to find food, shelter, and families. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing would not have been possible without P-22, but the most fitting memorial to P-22 will be how we carry his story forward in the work ahead. One crossing is not enough — we must build more, and we must continue to invest in proactive efforts to protect and conserve wildlife and the habitats they depend on — even in urban areas.

“P-22’s journey to and life in Griffith Park was a miracle. It’s my hope that future mountain lions will be able to walk in the steps of P-22 without risking their lives on California’s highways and streets. We owe it to P-22 to build more crossings and connect the habitats where we live now.

“Thank you for the gift of knowing you, P-22. I’ll miss you forever. But I will never stop working to honor your legacy, and although we failed you, we can at least partly atone by making the world safer for your kind.”

in News
Related Posts

SMa.r.t Column: Widespread Issues Put Santa Monica in Danger

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Following are 5 issues which, along with homelessness and crime, should take priority over all else in our city’s immediate...

1980s Rustic Canyon Home Hits the Market for $7.5 Million

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Property checks in at over 5,000 square feet featuring five bedrooms By Dolores Quintana A home designed by fine artist...

New Two-Story Commercial Building Proposed for Main Street in Santa Monica

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Project at Marine and Main would replace current parking lot A new two-story commercial building has been proposed for Main...

260-Acre Property Comprising 6% of Bel Air on the Market!

January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

Last-ditch effort to sell Senderos Canyon spread By Dolores Quintana Bel-Air, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the United...

Massive 24,000-Gallon Raw Sewage Leak Closes Local Beaches

January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

Wednesday leak near Admiralty Way and Palawan Way cause of closures A massive 24,000-gallon raw sewage leak shut down several...

Debris Washed Ashore at Santa Monica Beach

January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

Debris Washed Ashore at Santa Monica Beach During Last Week’s Storms. @smmirrornews Debris Washed Ashore at Santa Monica Beach During...

Popular Health-Conscious Restaurant Closes Downtown Santa Monica Location

January 26, 2023

January 26, 2023

Flowerchild no longer at 1332 Second Street By Dolores Quintana A popular health-conscious restaurant has shut down its Downtown Santa...

Iconic Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n Waffles Shutters its Pico Location

January 26, 2023

January 26, 2023

LA-based chain to focus on flagship on La Brea and Washington By Dolores Quintana For everyone who loves Roscoe’s Chicken...

Santa Monica Road Rage Incident Results in Shooting and Arrests for Attempted Murder

January 25, 2023

January 25, 2023

Manuel Jaramillo-Heredia and Emilio Reyes were arrested in connection to Tuesday incident By Sam Catanzaro A road rage incident escalated...

Column – A California Positive: Kids Swarm Extra Classes

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

By Tom Elias It’s become a cliché, the shibboleth that California has lousy public schools and most of the kids...

New Sourdough Bagel Shop Now Open in Ocean Park

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

Layla’s Bagels by chef Sergio Espana (formally from Tartine and Gjusta) has opened a shop on Ocean Park. @smmirrornews New...

Westside Food Bank Struggling to Find Eggs

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

Avian flu outbreak and inflation have been driving these shortages Westside Food Bank is turning to alternative suppliers to try...

St. Joseph Center President & CEO Leaving Organization to Lead LAHSA

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

25-year veteran of St. Joseph Center will service as serve as CEO of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Dr....

Michigan Man Extradited to Santa Monica for Beach Parking Lot Murder

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

Mohamed Abou-Arabi faces murder charges for November killing By Sam Catanzaro A Michigan man has been extradited to Santa Monica...

Million Dollar Listing To Sell Local Luxury Estate: Santa Monica Real Estate Report – January 23rd, 2023

January 23, 2023

January 23, 2023

Property, Developments, And Listings On The Westside.* Million Dollar Listing To Sell Local Luxury Estate* New Data Shows Luxury Brick...