Wildlife Experts Set to Examine Famed P-22 Mountain Lion

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Wildlife officials Tuesday will continue evaluating the health of famed Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 after the big cat's capture in the backyard of a Los Feliz home.

In a joint statement, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service said the animal was successfully tranquilized Monday and taken to a "wild animal care facility for a full health evaluation."

The tests will follow several recent attacks on pet dogs by P-22 that had wildlife officials worried about its health.

Initial evaluations Monday were encouraging.

"After an initial assessment by qualified veterinarians, the lion was deemed to be in stable condition and is undergoing additional veterinary evaluation," according to the agencies.

A resident posted photos of the tranquilized animal on social media Monday, writing, "P22 was captured in our backyard. Some animal control guys told us there's a lion in your yard. They tranquilized him and took to LA Zoo for observation. Quite a day!"

The resident, Sarah Picchi, told the Los Angeles Times the lion was caught near Franklin Avenue and St. George Street. She told the paper wildlife officials came to her home and said, "You have a lion in your backyard," explaining that it was P-22.

According to CDFW and NPS, authorities were able to determine the lion's location thanks to its tracking collar.

"CDFW veterinarians and NPS biologists will determine the best next steps for the animal while also prioritizing the safety of the surrounding communities," the agencies stated.

The agencies announced Thursday they planned to capture P-22 to evaluate his health, saying the animal "may be exhibiting signs of distress."

"This is an unprecedented situation in which a mountain lion has continued to survive in such an urban setting," according to a DFW statement last week. "As P-22 has aged, however, the challenges associated with living on an island of habitat seem to be increasing and scientists are noting a recent change in his behavior. This underscores the consequences of a lack of habitat connectivity for mountain lions and all wildlife."

P-22 made headlines in recent weeks for apparent attacks on a pair of dogs. The cat was blamed for killing a leashed dog in the Hollywood Hills and attacking another a week ago in the Silver Lake area.

The lion, one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National Park Service researchers, has gained fame locally for his persistence and durability, successfully managing to cross both the San Diego (405) and Hollywood (101) freeways to reach his current roaming grounds in the Griffith Park area.

Known as the "Hollywood Cat," P-22 has been the face of the NPS' lion-tracking effort. His exploits have been documented in various media accounts, particularly for some of his more notable exploits -- crossing a pair of freeways, hiding out under a Los Feliz home in a standoff that drew widespread media attention and even being named a suspect in the killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.

He is believed to be about 11 years old, making him the oldest cat in the NPS' study of Southland lions. He was initially captured and outfitted with a tracking collar in 2012. At the time of his last capture, he weighed 123 pounds.

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