Photos: Two Adorable New Mountain Lion Kittens Were Found In The Santa Monica Mountains
Long day? Perhaps you're working on a tight deadline and the caffeine is wearing out? Maybe the news cycle has made you feel harried, discombobulated? Here's something to pick you up: gaze into the adorable faces of P-59 and P-60, the two new mountain lion kittens discovered in the wilds of L.A. earlier this month.
The National Park Service announced the discovery on Tuesday, adding that the kittens were found in the central portion of the range in the Santa Monica Mountains. The siblings include a female (P-59) and a male (P-60)—the two are mothered by P-53, who is now two years old (the NPS says this is within the normal age range for giving birth). The pair is P-53's first litter of kittens.
The question of the father presents a bit of intrigue. First off, researchers aren't 100% sure who the father actually is. But there's a strong belief that it's P-12, as cameras and GPS data place him and P-53 at the same spot around the time when the mother would have conceived her kittens (DNA results are still pending, says the NPS).
P-12 is a unique individual as he's the only documented mountain lion to have crossed the 101 and entered the Santa Monica Mountains from the north. P-12 brought much-needed genetic diversity into an area that is bordered by the sea and the freeways. The topic of genetic variation is paramount in these parts, as researchers say that there's a 99.7% chance that the Santa Monica Mountain lion will go extinct if they aren't allowed to roam and breed. Organizers are currently working on plans for a wildlife crossing that spans over the 101 Freeway in the Agoura Hills area.
The news with P-12 isn't all rosy, however. The NPS notes that P-12 has mated with its own offspring in the area, and their offspring as well. “If P-12 is in fact these kittens’ father, that also means he’s their grandfather, their great grandfather, and their great-great grandfather,” Jeff Sikich, a biologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, explained in a NPS release. “Inbreeding to this degree really highlights the need for providing safe passage across the 101 freeway so new mountain lions can enter the population and breed.”