Photos: Griffith Park's Mountain Lion Is Looking Majestic Once Again After Being Sickly
Griffith Park's mountain lion, dubbed P-22, has had quite a journey over the past year. Ever since a National Geographic photographer snapped stunning photos of the cougar walking in front of the Hollywood Sign last year, we've been keeping a watchful eye on this guy. Things weren't looking so good for the mountain lion as P-22 was found sickened with mange and rat poison in March, but new photos released today show that he's looking healthy and back to his majestic self again.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area biologist Jeff Sikich set up a camera that could be remotely triggered on Nov. 21 in Griffith Park near a deer P-22 had killed. Sikich took these snapshots of the mountain lion coming back and forth to the deer over a period of four days to feed on it. P-22's been mostly eating mule deer—the natural prey of choice in the area—but occasionally eats coyotes and raccoons.
National Park Service researchers have been studying P-22 ever since they caught him and put a GPS collar on him in March 2012. Earlier this year, they discovered he was suffering from mange—a parasitic disease of the hair and skin—and after doing some tests, found he had traces of rat poison in his body. They treated him with selamectin, a topical treatment, and it looks like it worked!
“He looks healthy and has a full belly,” Sikich said in a statement. “Based on the number of photos, the multiple angles and the clarity, this is the best indication we’ve had that P-22 appears to have recovered. With these high resolution photos I can zoom in and investigate for signs of mange around the back of his ears and top of his head, which is usually where it first develops.”
However, unless they re-capture P-22 and test his blood, they can't be completely certain to know how healthy he is.
Back in June, there were some videos showing P-22 on the road to recovery. However, Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service told NBC Los Angeles then that "there’s nothing to say he can’t get mange or that he can’t be exposed to rat poisons again because nothing in his environment has changed."
Local wildlife experts have warned people that putting out bait traps with poison designed to kill rodents outside of their homes and businesses have consequences, like having the poison move up the food chain and affecting larger animals like mountain lions.