Los Angeles mountain lion dubbed ‘Hollywood Cat’ euthanized amid behavioral changes and failing health

A mountain lion who became a local celebrity in the Los Angeles hills has been euthanized after dangerous changes in his behavior led to examinations that revealed failing health and injuries possibly caused by a car.

Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the decision to euthanize the big cat, known as P-22, was made after veterinarians determined he had a fractured skull and chronic illnesses, including a skin infection and diseases of the kidneys and liver.

“His prognosis was considered poor,” said agency director Chuck Bonham, who fought back tears during a news conference announcing the cougar’s death. “That really hurts… It’s been an incredibly difficult few days.”

The P-22 was calmed down earlier this week in a backyard in the Los Feliz neighborhood near Griffith Park after authorities found the animal using a GPS-linked collar following an anonymous tip that the big cat had been hit by a car.

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A photo provided by the US National Park Service shows a mountain lion, known as P-22, captured in the Griffith Park area near downtown Los Angeles.
(U.S. National Park Service, via AP, File)

“CDFW veterinarians and NPS biologists will determine the best next steps for the animal while prioritizing the safety of the surrounding communities,” California Fish and Wildlife officials said at the time of the capture.

State officials decided the only options were euthanasia or confinement in an animal sanctuary — a difficult prospect for the wild lion.

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A photo provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shows a mountain lion known as P-22 being transported to a wildlife care center for a full health evaluation on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.

A photo provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shows a mountain lion known as P-22 being transported to a wildlife care center for a full health evaluation on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.
(California Department of Fish and Wildlife, via AP, File)

Officials said the mountain lion, believed to be 12 years old, longer than most wild male mountain lions live, had lost about 20 percent of its body weight and was diagnosed with kidney failure, liver disease , heart disease, and an “unusual parasitic infection.”

“I had moments of hope,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We pulled out all the stops and there were times when I thought we were going to make it.”

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P-22, born in the western mountains of Santa Monica, became a common sight in the Griffith Park area of ​​Los Angeles over the years and was known as the “Hollywood Cat” despite being implicated in numerous attacks on small dogs in the area.

The animal became the face of the campaign to build a wildlife crossing over a freeway in the Los Angeles area to give mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, deer and other animals safe passage between the nearby Santa Monica Mountains and the wilds to the north.

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This pair of photos, provided by the National Park Service, shows the Southern California mountain lion known as P-22, left, in March 2014, when he was suffering from mange, and right, in December 2015, with no lesions or scabs.

This pair of photos, provided by the National Park Service, shows the Southern California mountain lion known as P-22, left, in March 2014, when he was suffering from mange, and right, in December 2015, with no lesions or scabs.
(National Park Service via AP, file)

“The P-22’s survival on a desert island in the heart of Los Angeles captivated people around the world and revitalized efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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