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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“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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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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“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.