P-22 is back home in Griffith Park. Here’s how he survived urban ills to become L.A.’s most famous cat

Mountain lion P-22, wearing a radio collar, emerges from a tunnel.
Mountain lion P-22, shown in a remote photo, prowls Griffith Park.
(Miguel Ordeñana)

Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion is back in the news, roaming the streets of Silver Lake this week.

Just who is P-22 and what makes him such an L.A. legend?

Here’s a breakdown from the pages of The Times.

Humble birth

Researchers believe P-22 is originally from the Santa Monica Mountains, born to P-1 and an unnamed female mountain lion.

In 2012, he found his way across the 405 and 101 freeways and journeyed to Griffith Park.


Star turn

P-22’s fame began in 2013, when he was captured in a series of dramatic National Geographic photos in front of the Hollywood sign looking out on the L.A. skyline.

“For more than a year and a half, the solitary mountain lion known as P-22 has made himself right at home in Griffith Park within view of Hollywood’s Capitol Records building,” The Times wrote at the time.

“By night, he cruises the chaparral-covered canyons, dining on mule deer, raccoon and coyote. By day, while tots ride the Travel Town train and hikers hit the trails, he hunkers down amid dense vegetation. To researchers’ knowledge, the 125-pound 4-year-old is the most urban mountain lion in Southern California and possibly beyond — surviving and thriving in a small patch of habitat surrounded by freeways and densely packed human beings that he reached, somewhat miraculously, by crossing the 101 and 405 freeways.”

Health issues

P-22 was caught and examined in April 2014 after trail cameras captured images of him looking ill. Scientists sedated him and drew blood samples, finding evidence of exposure to rat poisons.

Two years later, officials said he appeared to have fully recovered from a serious bout of mange.

National Park Service scientists treated P-22 with topical medications and vitamin K injections to offset the effects of mange and poisoning and released him back into the park. Researchers suspect a link between rat poisons and mange, a parasitic skin disease that causes crusting and lesions and has contributed to the deaths of scores of bobcats and coyotes.

The National Park Service confirmed the 120-pound mountain lion’s radio collar was in Silver Lake on Tuesday night.

House hunting

P-22 has made the occasional foray into the Hollywood Hills, and in 2015, he baffled biologists when he settled into a crawlspace under a Los Feliz home.

Workers found him under the upscale contemporary house.

Then, just as abruptly as he appeared, he split that neighborhood.

“After all the hoopla, we’re happy to report that P-22 has been spending the past couple of days in the natural and more remote areas of Griffith Park, as he normally does,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service at the time.

“Like most mountain lions, he likes to find a quiet place during the day to rest,” Riley said, “but we hope next time it will be in dense chaparral as opposed to under someone’s house.”

The zoo incident

P-22’s place in Griffith Park and the surrounding areas came into question in 2017 after a violent incident at the L.A. Zoo.

“The death of a Los Angeles Zoo koala — presumably at the hands of famed Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 — has sparked debate about whether the big cat should be roaming the park,” The Times reported. “The koala at the zoo had been mutilated, and most of her face was missing. Blood soaked what remained of her gray fur.”

A debate ensued about whether P-22 should be relocated, but not much came of it.

Taking in the town

Earlier this year, the big cat was spotted in Beachwood Canyon.

Leilani Fideler received an alert that her backyard motion sensor had detected some raccoons. Soon, her phone pinged again. This time, it wasn’t a raccoon.

“I was shocked to see a lion’s tail,” Fideler told The Times. “I saw him jump over my gate. It was just wild.”

Fideler, an actor who recently moved to the neighborhood, wasn’t home during the 12-year-old mountain lion’s visit. In the video captured by her Ring security cameras, he hops a gate to enter the property. Later, he nimbly leaps to crouch atop a fence, city lights glowing in the distance.

And this week, he was spotted in Silver Lake.

His route led him to Berkeley Circle in Silver Lake. That’s where the big cat locked eyes with Chris Blim, standing just a few yards away. He was talking to a friend when something triggered a light on his neighbor’s doorbell camera.

At first, he thought the animal was a coyote, but he quickly realized it was a mountain lion.

“We’re just standing there looking at each other and the light goes off,” he said. “The only thing you see is the eyes, and that’s when the heart drops. This is not a house cat.”

Blim said he took a video of the itinerant feline on his phone. He and his friend then moved to the safety of Blim’s home, where they knew they’d at least have a gate between themselves and the mountain lion.

“Ultimately it’s pretty awesome,” Blim said. “The whole neighborhood’s excited.”

Show you the way

After his stopover in Silver Lake on Tuesday evening, P-22 ended up east of the Silver Lake Reservoir sometime around 3 a.m. Wednesday. The canny cat managed to evade any additional attention for most of the day and by Thursday morning the National Park Service reported he was back in his usual stomping grounds near Griffith Park.