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P-22, Hollywood's famous mountain lion, is euthanized after suffering injuries

P-22, pictured in the Griffith Park area near downtown Los Angeles in 2014, has been euthanized, officials said Saturday.
U.S. National Park Service, via AP
P-22, pictured in the Griffith Park area near downtown Los Angeles in 2014, has been euthanized, officials said Saturday.

For years, a wild mountain lion's presence in metropolitan Los Angeles captured the attention — and adoration — of the city's residents. But his story came to a sad close on Saturday.

Wildlife officials euthanized the animal, dubbed P-22, after discovering he suffered from a slew of medical issues — and sustained injuries after a vehicle struck him.

The 12-year-old "Hollywood Cat" made his debut in 2012 after completing a dangerous trek from the Santa Monica Mountains, that included crossing two major LA freeways, according to the National Park Service.

He became a local celebrity after residents spotted him near the Hollywood sign, becoming ill from rat poison and hiding underneath an LA home. And while P-22 spent years skulking freely in Griffith Park, the authorities announced their decision to capture him on Dec. 8.

After receiving reports that P-22 continued to appear dangerously close to human dwellings, may be distressed after killing a leashed pet in November, and reports that a vehicle struck him, authorities successfully captured the lion on Monday.

On Saturday, the medical team at San Diego Zoo Safari Park and officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said they completed a medical examination on P-22 and recommended euthanasia.

"The results of these tests and screenings showed significant trauma to the mountain lion's head, right eye and internal organs, confirming the suspicion of recent injury, such as a vehicle strike," CDFW officials said in a press release announcing the decision. "The trauma to his internal organs would require invasive surgical repair."

The medical team also cited the animal's advanced age, and pre-existing illnesses, including extensive parasitic skin infection, arthritis and irreversible kidney disease, in its decision to euthanize the lion.

Officials said they aren't seeking information on who struck P-22.

"This situation is not the fault of P-22, nor of a driver who may have hit him," CDFW officials said in the release. "Rather, it is an eventuality that arises from habitat loss and fragmentation, and it underscores the need for thoughtful construction of wildlife crossings and well-planned spaces that provide wild animals room to roam."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.