P-22, Griffith Park’s beloved mountain lion, could get a permanent memorial

An effort is underway to create a permanent memorial to P-22, the beloved mountain lion that roamed Griffith Park for a decade, endearing himself to Angelenos and animal lovers around the world, before his death in December.

The Los Angeles City Council last week voted to establish an ad hoc committee of the Griffith Park Advisory Board, made up of city staff and stakeholders, to recommend a location and design for a memorial at Griffith Park, and has asked the city staff to report back within 120 days on the cost of the project.

“I had the great honor of representing the area where P-22 lived in Council District 4, where he achieved celebrity status after completing an Odyssey-like journey,” Councilmember Nithya Raman, who introduced the motion proposing the memorial, said in a statement.

Miguel Ordeñana via AP

This Jan. 2020 photo, provided by Miguel Ordeñana, shows P-22, photographed in Los Angeles. The popular puma shone a spotlight on the troubled population of California’s endangered mountain lions and their decreasing genetic diversity. (Miguel Ordeñana via AP)

Artist Corie Mattie, ‘LA Hope Dealer’ works on the “Peace, Love and P-22,” mural as part of the #SaveLACougars campaign. Mattie, who once spotted P-22 in her own yard, has a tattoo of P-22 on her leg, and was painting her 17-by-20-foot mural of P-22 on Monday at Hype Silver Lake on Monday, October 3, 2022. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Post-It notes paying tribute to the famed mountain lion known as P-22 cover an exhibit wall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. The popular puma gained fame as P-22 and shone a spotlight on the troubled population of California’s endangered mountain lions and their decreasing genetic diversity. After the big cat’s death, he was eulogized in front of 5,000 people at the Greek Theatre on Feb. 4. Now, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has commissioned a musical composition in his honor. It will debut on Sept. 12, 2023 at the Hollywood Bowl. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

People pose with a photo of P22 during the celebration of life for the wild mountain lion who died, famous P-22 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 4, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

P-22, Southern California’s most famous cougar (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)



Raman cited his unusual journey of more than 20 miles, in which the cougar left behind the wide open spaces in the Santa Monica Mountains and crossed the treacherous 405 and 101 freeways, “to reach his new home of Griffith Park over a decade ago.”

“It only makes sense that we pay tribute to his legacy with a permanent memorial on his home turf, where visitors can come pay their respects and learn more about his invaluable contributions to wildlife conservation,” Raman said.

P-22, so named because he was the 22nd puma to be studied by the U.S. National Park Service in an ongoing study of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, is believed to have left Topanga State Park in 2012, becoming the only big cat to successfully cross two freeways in his 20-mile trek to his new home.

Over the course of a decade, P-22, who was occasionally spotted, became the most famous mountain lion in Los Angeles – and arguably the world – as he graced magazine covers and made headlines. He reached celebrity status after a National Geographic photographer captured an image of him in front of the iconic Hollywood sign in 2013.

After that, P-22 became a symbol of urban wildlife and the plight of mountain lions facing extinction and even gained a following on Twitter.

He was euthanized on Dec. 17 due to injuries he sustained after being hit by a car. Wildlife officials believe he was about 12 years old.

Angelenos celebrated his life with an event at the Greek Theater in February, with a sold-out crowd of about 6,000.

The mountain lion was buried in an unspecified location in the Santa Monica Mountains in March with a traditional tribal burial that featured songs, prayers and sage smoke cleansing.

In the motion that the City Council voted on last week, the P-22 memorial ad hoc committee is instructed to take input from the public and stakeholder groups such as Friends of Griffith Park, the National Wildlife Federation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service and local tribes.

“You can’t over-memorialize P-22,” said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation and a leader in the #SaveLACougars campaign, in a statement after last week’s council decision to look into installing a memorial.

“He was such a beloved cat by people, not just in Los Angeles but around the world,” Pratt said, “and it’s wonderful to see the desire to create lasting places where people can celebrate P-22’s life and their personal connections to him.”

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