P-22

P-22

Steve Winter, National Geographic

P-22: The World Famous Hollywood Sign Lion

Male | Born 2009 | Alive

There’s more to this male mountain lion than living around the Hollywood Sign (That National Geographic photo was pretty cool, though). What makes P-22 especially unique is that he somehow made his way into Griffith Park, the eastern flank of the Santa Monica Mountains, from the western side, where he was born to P-1 and an unknown female lion. That meant he likely crossed two major Los Angeles freeways, the 405 and 101, something other lions have died trying. His presence was first documented in early 2012 by a camera trap set up by the Friends of Griffith Park. His safe passage into and life in the park is a testament to the wild spaces remaining in Los Angeles, but his story isn’t one of total success. Griffith Park so far has proved just as much of an island of habitat as the rest of the Santa Monicas, if not more. Hemmed in by freeways and urban sprawl on all sides, it is difficult for lions to disperse and define their own territory and eventually mate. The eight square miles of Griffith Park may be P-22’s territory, but it is sorely too small -- by a factor of about 31! -- for an adult male. And as an isolated patch of habitat, it’s hard to imagine a female lion joining him any time soon.

P-22 first graced the front page of the Los Angeles Times in August of 2012, shortly after he was first discovered. He has since become a sort of ambassador for urban wildlife. In January of 2017, he landed on the front page again, this time with a "week in the life" feature story that shed insight into his movements and diet.

He's also made headlines across the city and country a few other times. In 2014, he developed a case of mange, which was successfully treated by our researchers. In 2015, his presence under a home in Los Feliz, a Los Angeles neighborhood adjacent to Griffith Park, became a live news event as local officials tried to get him to leave. When the commotion died down, he left on his own in the early dark hours of the morning. And in 2016, he was suspected of killing a koala at the L.A. Zoo.

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