Months after turning up looking sickly and suffering from mange, Griffith Park's resident mountain lion and unofficial mascot of sorts is looking much healthier.
In new photos released by park officials Thursday, the mountain lion also known as P-22 or Puma-22 appears healthy, strong, and happily feeding on the carcass of a mule deer in the park.
FOR THE RECORD:
Mountain lion: An article in the April 14 California section about the discovery of the Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 under a Los Feliz house gave the wrong last name for a California Department of Fish and Wildlife patrol lieutenant. He is Marty Wall, not Williams. —
Park officials last encountered the mountain lion in March, when they captured him to replace the battery in his GPS collar. The lion was thin and afflicted with mange, a parasitic skin disease that causes crusting and skin lesions. Blood tests indicated that he'd been exposed to rat poisons that have been linked to the condition.
Park biologists treated him with topical medications and Vitamin K injections to offset the poisoning, and released him back into the park.
The photos released Thursday were taken by remote cameras in the park set up at the site of one of P-22's fresh deer kills. In them, the animal's coat looks shiny and even, the back of his ears and top of his head free of any signs of mange.
"He looks healthy and has a full belly," said Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in a statement. "Based on the number of photos, the multiple angles and clarity, this is the best indication we've had that P-22 appears to have recovered."
Biologists warn that without blood tests, it's impossible to have a full picture of how healthy the big cat really is, but the photos, more than 1,500 in total, are encouraging.
"He clearly looks a lot better than he did in March," said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist for the National Park Service.
The good news came as new reports surfaced of what could be another mountain lion spotted east of the 405 Freeway. A blurry photo of what appears to be a mountain lion was posted on Twitter recently. If confirmed, it would be only the second mountain lion thought to migrate across the freeway.
P-22 is believed to be the first to have made that journey.
When researchers first captured him in 2012, genetic testing indicated he belonged to a group of mountain lions born in the Santa Monica Mountains, meaning he would have had to cross both the 405 and 101 freeways to settle in Griffith Park.
He has remained there since then, researchers say, and has mostly stuck to the natural areas of the park, hunting mule deer and other animals for food.