Famed Los Angeles mountain lion euthanized due to injuries, illness

A trail camera picture of mountain lion P-22
A trail camera picture of mountain lion P-22, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., 2012. Miguel Ordenana/NATIONAL HISTORY MUSUEM OF L.A./Griffith Park Connectivity/Handout via REUTERS

LOS ANGELES, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A famed mountain lion who became a Los Angeles celebrity after living in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills for over a decade was euthanized on Saturday because of severe health problems, California officials announced.

The aging mountain lion, called P-22 and thought to be about 12 years old, was captured in a Los Feliz backyard on Monday amid fears he had been struck by a car and was suffering other health problems.

The cat, who had traversed busy highways to take up residence in and around Los Angeles' Griffith Park, became a symbol of campaigns to save California's threatened mountain lion population. He was put to sleep at 9 a.m. on Saturday at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, officials at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said.

Tests on P-22 revealed "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.

The examination also uncovered irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body and localized arthritis, officials said.

"Based on these factors, compassionate euthanasia under general anesthesia was unanimously recommended by the medical team at San Diego Zoo Safari Park," the CDFW said.

Beth Pratt, a lifelong advocate for wildlife who had championed P-22 for a decade, posted a eulogy to the mountain lion on the National Wildlife Federation website. She was with him when he died.

"I sat near him, looking into his eyes for a few minutes, and told him he was a good boy. I told him how much I loved him," Pratt wrote.

Pratt praised his "intrepid spirit, charm, and just plain chutzpah," adding: "P-22’s journey to and life in Griffith Park was a miracle. It’s my hope that future mountain lions will be able to walk in the steps of P-22 without risking their lives on California’s highways and streets."

Officials said P-22's demise was caused by habitat loss and fragmentation, and called for the construction of more wildlife crossings in urban areas and well-planned spaces for them to roam.

"Mountain lion P-22 has had an extraordinary life and captured the hearts of the people of Los Angeles and beyond. The most difficult, but compassionate choice was to respectfully minimize his suffering and stress by humanely ending his journey," the CDFW said in a statement.

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis

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