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Griffith Park Mountain Lion Is The Primary Suspect In Zoo Koala's Death

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Last Thursday, zookeepers at the Los Angeles Zoo discovered a problem. One of the zoo's koalas had gone missing, leaving behind only a tuft of hair in its place. Zookeepers were baffled, and became even more so when they discovered the mauled body of the marsupial about 400 meters away, according to NBC 4.

Without leads and worried about vandalism, zoo officials reviewed security footage looking for clues. Instead of finding a malicious teenager on the tapes, they saw Griffith Park's most famous resident: P-22.

"We were actually looking for bobcats, and what we found on that night was P-22," zoo director John Lewis told City News Service. "That was the first time we knew he was getting into the zoo."

"The evidence is circumstantial," Lewis told the L.A. Times. "We don't have any video of it taking the koala. We can't say 100%"

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Perhaps the Griffith Park Mountain Lion decided to experiment with some exotic taste, expanding his palate to include exotic Australian flavors not often found in what is probably his usual diet of housecats and rich Chihuahuas? Lewis says they suspect P-22 has also been feasting on raccoons that get onto the zoo's grounds.

Although the killing can't be definitively pinned on the mountain lion, this isn't stopping the call from some people for wanting P-22 out. L.A. City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell says that though P-22 is certainly loved, Griffith Park is not the best place for him. As he said in a statement:

Regardless of what predator killed the koala, this tragedy just emphasizes the need to contemplate relocating P-22 to a safer, more remote wild area where he has adequate space to roam without the possibility of human interaction... P-22 is maturing, will continue to wander, and runs the risk of a fatal freeway crossing as he searches for a mate. As much as we love P-22 at Griffith Park, we know the park is not ultimately suitable for him. We should consider resettling him in the environment he needs.

Lewis, however, disagreed. Despite the loss of one of their own animals, he said the zoo was happy to remains neighbors with the big cat. "There's a lot of native wildlife in this area. This is their home. So we'll learn to adapt to P-22 just like he's learned to adapt to us."

P-22 was catapulted to fame a few years ago, after National Geographic wildlife photographer Steve Winter captured a magnificent image of the animal backdropped by the Hollywood sign.

Since his debut, P-22 has been in-and-out of the spotlight. In April of 2014, fans were worried when photos surfaced of P-22 sick with mange, most likely as a result of rat poison in his prey. He recovered, but it wasn't long before he made headlines again for holing up beneath a house in Los Feliz.