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Climate and Environment

P-22, ‘The Brad Pitt’ Of Mountain Lions, Celebrates A Decade At Griffith Park

A close-up of P-22's face with whiskers and light green eyes next to Brad Pitt with a mustache, looking to his side.
P-22 has been the only mountain lion to migrate out of the Santa Monica Mountains over the past decade. He's celebrating 10 years of living at Griffith Park on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022.
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/DoD News Features. GFX by Sam Benson Smith)
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Some call him the “Brad Pitt” of mountain lions. And much like the Hollywood legend, P-22 is showing no signs of slowing down.

On Saturday, Los Angeles' most famous mountain lion will celebrate his 10th anniversary of living in Griffith Park. Cameras first caught P-22 roaming the area at night on Feb. 12, 2012. He was captured and tagged with a GPS collar the next month.

A mountain lion stands in leaves at night looking into the camera. A GPS collar is visible.
P-22 photographed in 2015.
(Courtesy National Park Service)

P-22's mythos has only grown since his brief residence at a Los Feliz estate, his courageous defeat of the toxic tendrils of rat poison, and the Odyssean trek from the Santa Monica Mountains over two freeways to find his Southland home.

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And, of course, the National Geographic photo with the Hollywood sign as the backdrop.

"He's a remarkable cat. I can't say every cat would have even made the journey, would have hung out there so long, would have coexisted so well," said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation.

It's Pratt who refers to the renowned big cat as the Brad Pitt of mountain lions.

"He's handsome, he's aged well, but struggles with his dating life," she said.

A Big Impact So Far

Pratt points out P-22 has made a huge impact on wildlife conservation.

He's the poster child for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing. Construction on the world's largest wildlife crossing — over the 101 freeway — could begin in the spring.

"He put this really relatable story to the plight of these mountain lions," Pratt said. "Lonely, dateless cougar looking for love and cut off from his kind, that really is why we're getting this crossing built."

Regional mountain lions have been breeding themselves out of existence since the 101 Freeway was put in decades ago. Pratt says birth defects have started showing up, and sperm counts and viability have gone down.

That's where the wildlife crossing could make a difference. Pratt says the bridge will "facilitate new genetic blood or non-family members coming into the Santa Monica Mountains."

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P-22 is approaching the end of a normal lifespan for a mountain lion. Still, Pratt says he "looks great" for his age. She thinks he could live much longer since he doesn't compete with other mountain lions.

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