‘It’s a girl!’ Meet L.A.’s newest mountain lion kitten — P-54
The latest addition to the Santa Monica Mountains’ troop of mountain lions is a furry, 4-week-old kitten birthed by a widely known cougar whose photo was snapped as she feasted on a deer.
The female kitten, named P-54, is believed to be the product of inbreeding, which researchers said is a growing phenomenon in the Santa Monica Mountains animals because of a shrinking genetic pool. The kitten’s mother, P-23, likely mated with her mother’s half-sibling, P-30, according to the National Park Service.
“The good news is that local mountain lions continue to reproduce successfully,” biologist Jeff Sikich said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these animals are stuck on an island of habitat, with very little movement in and out of the Santa Monica Mountains, which has led to multiple cases of inbreeding.”
Researchers tracked the cats as they traveled together for three days. About 90 days later, researchers discovered that P-23 had given birth.
“It’s a girl,” Ranger Kate Kuykendall announced on the Facebook account of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Researchers think P-23 may have birthed more than one kitten.
“We are planning on placing cameras on a deer kill of the mom’s and trying to get photos later to see how many kittens she has with her,” Kuykendall said.
If genetic testing confirms that P-30 is the kitten’s father, her birth would be the first record of him fathering kittens, the park service said.
This is P-23’s third litter.
Like other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, P-23 has also gained notoriety. A photograph showing her dragging a deer into brush in the Malibu Springs area provided a rare glimpse of how mountains lions handle their prey.
Unfortunately for P-23, she has had some heartbreaks, and child-rearing has been bittersweet.
Four of her kittens met a grisly end in 2015 when they were eaten by larger predators.
A sibling of the dead kittens managed to survive, however, and was recorded by surveillance cameras as it chirped for its mother.
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9:05 a.m.: This article was updated with information about researchers looking for other kittens.
This article was originally published at 8:20 a.m
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