P-22, a cougar who spent years at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, may have been euthanized after being injured in a “car accident,” officials said.
The big cat made headlines last month after it attacked and killed a resident’s Chihuahua on a leash. He was captured by authorities on Tuesday who used GPS data from his tracking collar to locate and anesthetize him.
According to a Saturday news release, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to euthanize P-22 after a “comprehensive medical evaluation.”
Compassionate euthanasia was unanimously recommended by the San Diego Safari Park medical team and was performed under general anesthesia, the department said.
The department said an “extensive evaluation” of P-22 “revealed severe trauma to the mountain lion’s head, right eye and internal organs, confirming suspicion of recent injuries, such as a vehicle impact.” “Trauma to his internal organs required invasive surgical repair.”
The 12-year-old cougar also suffered from “severe pre-existing medical conditions, including irreversible kidney disease, chronic weight loss, widespread parasitic skin infections throughout the body, and localized arthritis,” according to a press release.
He was in poor general health and “may have other underlying medical conditions that have not been fully characterized through diagnosis,” the department said.
They added that officials would not be seeking information about a possible collision between the P-22 and the vehicle.
“The circumstances were not the fault of P-22, or the driver who may have struck him,” the department wrote. “Rather, it’s a possibility created by habitat loss and fragmentation that underscores the need for thoughtful construction of wildlife crossings and well-planned spaces that provide wildlife with room to roam.”
When P-22 was caught in a camera trap under the iconic Hollywood sign, he became a celebrity in Los Angeles. This image appeared in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic.
The mountain lion even has its own Facebook and Instagram pages, with fans posting heartfelt messages on Saturday.
P-22 also made headlines in 2016 for breaking through a 9-foot fence at the Los Angeles Zoo and beating a koala.
Officials across California issued statements marking the death of the mountain lion, including the governor. Gavin Newsom.
“P-22’s survival on a deserted island in the heart of Los Angeles has captivated people from around the world and reinvigorated efforts to protect our diverse native species and ecosystems,” Newsom said in a news release.
Newsom’s father is the founder of the Mountain Lion Foundation and advocates for permanent protection of the species, according to the release.
“The incredible journey of the iconic mountain lion helped inspire a new era of conservation and reconnection with nature, including through Liberty Canyon’s world’s largest wildlife overpass,” Newsom added. “Through innovative alliances and strategies to restore critical habitat across the state, we will continue our efforts to preserve California’s invaluable natural heritage for future generations.”
Earlier this year, construction began on a 10-lane wildlife crossing along Highway 101, hoping to create a safer way for animals to roam the area. In addition, Newsom has committed $50 million to other similar programs across the state.
Beth Pratt, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s California region, also thought of the cougar during an emotional news conference. “It’s hard to imagine me writing about P-22 in the past tense now,” she said, expressing hope that future California mountain lions will be safe to roam.
“Thank you for letting me know you, P-22. I will miss you forever,” Pratt said. “But I will never stop working to honor your legacy, and while we have failed you, we can at least partly make up for it by making the world a safer place for your kind.”