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Pair Of Mountain Lion Kittens Die After Being Abandoned By Their Mother, P-42

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(Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica National Mountains Recreation Area via Facebook)
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In a story that begins like many a fable and ends in tragedy, a pair of mountain lion kittens known as P-57 (male) and P-58 (female) were abandoned by their mother, P-42, in the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains and left to fend for themselves. In the mythic version of this tale, P-57 and P-58 would have been suckled by a she-wolf or saved by a kindly shepherd and eventually destined for all kinds of greatness. Instead, they starved to death.

"Like all wild animals, many young do not survive until adulthood," Ranger Kate of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said in a Facebook post announcing the news.

Apparently, adult male P-27 had visited the den at one point, and he and P-42 traveled for six days.

"We have seen a similar scenario in our study when the mom will leave the den with another male, seemingly to distract him from preying on the kittens, and will then return and move the kittens to a new location," Ranger Kate wrote. "Unfortunately, in this case P-42 did not return." According to the post, the rangers did not know that the kittens had been abandoned until they hiked in and found them.

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"Yes," as Ranger Kate told a Facebook commenter, "this nature stuff is not for the faint of heart!" Nor, one could argue, is the human stuff.