Hollywood Cat is no longer. The Los Angeles area’s most famous mountain lion, an aged wild male feline sighted around the city’s Griffith Park, was euthanized Saturday, wildlife officials said.
For years, it was known to prowl around the hillside “Hollywood” sign visible around much of Los Angeles, a fitting setting for a celebrity cat.
It earned the nickname Hollywood Cat, but the mountain lion — estimated to be around 11 years old — is officially called P-22.
State and federal wildlife officers decided earlier this month to capture it due to its erratic behavior, perhaps associated with being struck by a vehicle.
Veterinarians found “significant trauma” to its head, right eye and internal organs, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.
The experts also found underlying health issues, including “irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized arthritis.”
“The most difficult, but compassionate choice was to respectfully minimize his suffering and stress by humanely ending his journey,” the statement said.
“Mountain lion P-22 has had an extraordinary life and captured the hearts of the people of Los Angeles and beyond.”
Euthanizing the cougar was a punch to the gut for game experts who had grown to love the animal.
“This really hurts,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, when he announced P-22’s death, according to USA Today.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult several days.”
‘Our favorite celebrity’
Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents part of Los Angeles County, said he was “heartbroken” at P-22’s passing.
“He was our favorite celebrity neighbor, occasional troublemaker, and beloved L.A. mascot,” Schiff tweeted.
“But most of all he was a magnificent, wild creature, who reminded us that we are part of a natural world much bigger than ourselves.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom praised P-22’s “incredible journey” in a statement.
“P-22’s survival on an island of wilderness in the heart of Los Angeles captivated people around the world,” Newsom said.
Griffith Park, where P-22 lived for perhaps a decade, is hemmed in by freeways and urban sprawl. It is a nine-square-mile (23-square-kilometer) isolated patch of nature.
Experts marveled at how the wild cat got across either of two major Los Angeles freeways — the 405 and 101 — to get to Griffith Park as early as 2012.
Officials said they were not looking for the driver who hit it.
“This situation is not the fault of P-22, nor of a driver who may have hit him,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
“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.”
In a profile of P-22 done long before its death, the National Park Service lamented that Griffith Park is too small for a second cougar, and “it’s unlikely he will ever find love with a female lion.”
The cat’s renown was due to frequent sightings, video doorbell cameras and physical encounters.
A Facebook page in honor of the cougar has more than 20,000 followers.
Source: Voice of America