Tribes bury P-22, Southern California’s legendary mountain lion

By Stefanie Dazio 

LOS ANGELES — Tribal leaders, scientists and conservation advocates buried Southern California’s most famous mountain lion Saturday in the mountains where the big cat once roamed.

After making his home in the urban Griffith Park — home of the Hollywood Sign — for the past decade, P-22 became a symbol for California’s endangered mountain lions and their decreasing genetic diversity.

The death of the cougar, named P-22 because the animal was the 22nd puma in a National Park Service study, late last year set off a debate between the tribes in the Los Angeles area and wildlife officials over whether scientists could keep samples of the mountain lion’s remains for future testing and research.

Some representatives of the Chumash, Tataviam and Gabrielino (Tongva) peoples argued that samples taken during the necropsy should be buried with the rest of his body in the ancestral lands where he spent his life. Some tribal elders said keeping the specimens for scientific testing would be disrespectful to their traditions.

National Park Service

This Nov. 2014 file photo provided by the National Park Service shows the Griffith Park mountain lion known as P-22.He died on Dec. 17, 2022. (National Park Service, via AP, File)

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

A remote camera captures a radio collared cougar, P-22 in Griffith Park. The animal was featured in a 2013 National Geographic photo spread, seen as a healthy cat. (Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic)

Actor Rainn Wilson performs song about 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 when he was captured and transported to a wild animal care facility for a full health evaluation on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. Wildlife experts said he was drastically underweight and probably was injured by a car. (The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, via AP, File)

A stuffed 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)

Ouaj Ghribi from Paris, France takes a picture of Chiara Rode, 2, with the mural of mountain lion P-22 in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. The mural by street artist Corie Mattie is dedicated to the memory of P-22, the celebrated mountain lion who lived in the city and was recently euthanized amid worsening health and injuries likely caused by a car. P-22 became the face of a campaign to build a wildlife crossing over a Los Angeles-area freeway to give big cats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife a safe path to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains, where they have room to roam. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)



Tribal representatives, wildlife officials and others discussed a potential compromise for hours in recent weeks, but it was not immediately clear Monday what conclusion the group reached before P-22 was buried in an unspecified location in the Santa Monica Mountains on Saturday.

The traditional tribal burial included songs, prayers and sage smoke cleansings, according to Alan Salazar, a tribal member of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and a descendent of the Chumash tribe.

Salazar, who attended the ceremony, said he believes P-22’s legacy will help wildlife officials and scientists realize the importance of being respectful to animals going forward.

Wildlife officials believe P-22 was born about 12 years ago in the western Santa Monica Mountains, but left because of his father’s aggression and his own struggle to find a mate amid a dwindling population. That drove the cougar to cross two heavily traveled freeways and migrate east to Griffith Park, where a wildlife biologist captured him on a trail camera in 2012.

A boulder from Griffith Park was brought to the gravesite in the Santa Monica Mountains and placed near P-22’s grave, Salazar said.

Mountain lion P-22

‘Hollywood Cat’ P-22’s celebration of life packs Greek Theater
Beloved mountain lion P-22 is euthanized
Rep. Adam Schiff, others in Congress, want stamp to honor ‘Hollywood Cat’ P-22
‘Hollywood Cat’ P-22 caught in Los Feliz by wildlife officials
Mountain lion P-22, the ‘Hollywood Cat’ attacks dog in Silver Lake

Share the Post:

Related Posts