“This really hurts:” California’s famous mountain lion, P-22, humanely euthanized after likely “vehicle strike”

P-22, the mountain lion known for roaming Griffith Park in Los Angeles and being photographed with the iconic Hollywood sign, has been euthanized after officials found the big cat too ill and injured to survive in the wild.

The cougar was captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Dec. 12 after a series of unusual attacks on dogs, close encounters with people and generally odd behaviour not seen in animal’s 10 years of tracking.

The department, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, found “several severe injuries and chronic health problems,” which lead to the unanimous decision for “compassionate euthanasia under general anesthesia” on Dec. 17.

P-22 was known around the world. Photo: CDFW

Chuck Bonham, director of the CDFW, addressed media Saturday.

“I’m sure each of you has fallen in love with the animal. Like all of us, have,” he said, his voice heavy with emotion. “This really hurts. And I know that it’s been an incredibly difficult several days, and for myself, I’ve got the entire weight of the city of Los Angeles on my shoulders.”

Experts did a full physical exam, organ function tests, infectious disease screening, ultrasonography and CT scans of P-22’s skull, chest and abdomen.

“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,” officials said Saturday. “The trauma to his internal organs would require invasive surgical repair.”

They also found irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized arthritis.

The mountain lion was about 12 years old.

“P-22’s advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life-shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome,” the department said. “His poor condition indicated that he may also have had additional underlying conditions not yet fully characterized by diagnostics.”

The Fish and Wildlife department said it is not looking for more information about the suspected car collision.

“This situation is not the fault of P-22, nor of a driver who may have hit him,” officials added. “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.”

P-22 was famously photographed in 2013 under the Hollywood sign when he wandered by a camera trap. The young cat crossed two major highways from the Santa Monica Mountains to find himself in Griffith Park.

The picture appeared in National Geographic and made the big cat recognized around the world.

The CDFW thanked everyone for their help and support in the past week, and over the years as P-22 was followed and studied.

“Mountain lion P-22 has had an extraordinary life and captured the hearts of the people of Los Angeles and beyond,” the department added. “The most difficult, but compassionate choice was to respectfully minimize his suffering and stress by humanely ending his journey.”

P-22 won’t be forgotten. Photo: National Park Service

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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