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Meow! Mountain Lion Kittens Born in Santa Monica Mountains

One of the mountain lion kittens born mid-June in the Santa Monica Mountains (Photo courtesy National Park Service)
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The National Park Service has announced the birth of two mountain lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains. The one male and one female were born in mid-June, and wee outfitted with tracking devices after they were found east of Circle X Ranch in Mailbu.

Why all the excitement? The National Park Service says these newborns indicate the Santa Monica Mountains serve as a high-quality habitat for the animals, though Dr. Seth Riley cautions what we have isn't necessarily ideal. From a National Park Service release: “Unfortunately, the amount of habitat is not sufficient to support a viable population long-term, and when new animals like these are born, especially young males, they run into freeways and development when they try to disperse.”

One example of that sometimes fatal phenom was when a three-year-old male mountain lion ended up on the streets of Santa Monica, and was shot dead. That young male was found to be the offspring of one of the documented mountain lions in the region, known as P-12. But P-12 has been (getting) busy...

See, there's another bummer note to the tale of these baby mountain lions. The mountain lion kittens were fathered by their own grandfather. Named Puma 23 and 24 (or P-23 and P-24 for short), DNA testing determined their mother, P-19, was impregnated by P-12, who happens to also be P-19's father. That makes these kittens the "second documented case of first-order inbreeding in which a father lion mates with his female offspring," notes the NPS.