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Climate and Environment

3 Mountain Lion Kittens Found In Thousand Oaks Will Melt Your Heart

Two tiny mountain lion cubs are hiding in the foliage and appear to be snarling.
The 24-day old furry felines were recently discovered in a dense patch of foliage in the Simi Hills by National Park Service biologists.
(Courtesy NPS)
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An all-female litter of mountain lion kittens was discovered last week in a dense patch of foliage in the Simi Hills of Thousand Oaks by National Park Service biologists.

Meet the kittens

The three furry felines — named P-113, 114, and P-115 — are the offspring of P-77, a mountain lion who’s been living on a small patch between the 101 and 118 freeways.

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An young adult mountain is photographed at night and has long whispers and a lean face
Mountain lion P-77 was collared and released back into the wild in November 2019.
(Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area via Facebook)

The backstory

This is the third litter the NPS has found in the Simi Hills over the past five years.

Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist of long-term study of mountain lions, says he’s interested to see how the kittens will adapt to the region's urban areas.

“It will be interesting to learn how these kittens will use the landscape once they get older and disperse," he said, "particularly if they decide to stay in the Simi Hills or cross freeways to enter larger natural areas.”

A person in a ranger shirt and hat drops a mountain lion kitten into a bag held by another person in uniform. They're near a chainlink fence.
(Courtesy NPS)

To get to the other side of the road

A graphic shows mule deer, bobcat, coyote, golden eagle, California thrasher, mountain lion and other wildlife super-imposed over a massive grassy bridge across a wide freeway
A breakdown of some of the wildlife that would regain access to huge swaths of their natural habitats once the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor is completed.
(Courtesy National Wildlife Federation
Living Habitats)

Last April, construction got underway on the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing that will stretch 210 feet across eight lanes of the 101 freeway in Agoura Hills.

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The $90 million project is intended to provide safe passage to a range of wildlife now hemmed in by the region's massive freeways. Mountain lions have been killed in high numbers on area roads and also suffer from inbreeding because of how bifurcated their habitats currently are due to development in Southern California.

What's next

Given the recent deaths of mountain lions in L.A., including the loss of the famous P-22, these recent births shine a light on a more hopeful future for a species that have adapted to a fragmented landscape of Los Angeles.

And the future for the kittens? Well, the healthy creatures have been tagged so biologists can keep track of their development and their movement well-beyond their childhood.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

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