“He changed us. He changed the way we look at LA. And his influencer status extended around the world, as he inspired millions of people to see wildlife as their neighbors.”
Those are words from Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Foundation, part of a eulogy she wrote for the celebrity mountain lion P-22 after his death in December.
The Hollywood big-cat was born in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2010 and roamed Griffith Park for a decade, which is an average lifespan for the animal species.
This weekend, thousands will gather at the Greek Theater to celebrate the life of P-22.
Dr. Eric Strauss, President’s Professor of Biology at Loyola Marymount University, spoke with “Inside the Issues” guest host Amrit Singh on the legacy and mourning of the celebrity mountain lion.
“First of all, he lived at least 12 years, which is a fairly extraordinary accomplishment,” Dr. Strauss said.
Urbanization is leading these predators to fend for space and food outside natural habitats and that can mean venturing off park or mountainous roads and onto highways and residential areas.
“There’s an accumulation of a variety of insults and traumas that happen to animals in urban areas, whether it’s contact with cars, whether it’s taking in toxic materials in the food that they eat and so on,” said Dr. Strauss.
He also said that when P-22 was caught in December, he was signaling that there was something seriously wrong with him. There were signs of internal trauma from most likely being hit by a car, possibly more than once.
“The only viable alternative for him was euthanasia,” said Dr. Strauss.
During his lifetime, P-22 not only inspired the people of Los Angeles but also changed how we protect our wildlife in the area. His story has led to “a more rational and insightful management of our urban green space,” the LMU educator said.
Last April, Gov. Gavin Newsom and dozens of federal, state and local officials broke ground on the construction of the Wallis Annenberg Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing. The bridge will link the Santa Monica Mountains across the 101 Freeway to the Simi Hills by 2025.
The nearly one-acre project will be the largest of its kind in the world.
“We’re going to have a whole series of digital and high-tech equipment there that’s going to measure and monitor what’s moving across.”
But, we won’t just be learning about the current population structure, the wildlife crossing will also “help inform future wildlife crossings and future management of that area.”
This is P-22’s legacy. His story was never just about him, but about all the organisms that live in the Los Angeles area. As Dr. Strauss noted, “His life is over, but his lessons are just beginning.”
The National Wildlife Federation’s “P-22 Celebration of Life” event is being hosted today at the Greek Theatre at noon.
The event is sold out, but fans can watch the livestream here.
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