LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A ``celebration of life'' for famed Southland mountain lion P-22 will be held at the Greek Theatre in February, honoring the cat who made Griffith Park his home and became the face of the endangered Southern California lion population.
The free event is scheduled for noon on Feb. 4, according to the theater's website. Tickets will be required, but details about their distribution have not yet been announced. The lion was euthanized Dec. 17 after being examined by wildlife officials who captured the cat following recent signs of distress, including a series of attacks on pet dogs in the area.
``We will all be grappling with the loss for some time, trying to make sense of a Los Angeles without this magnificent wild creature,'' according to the theater's website. ``Let's come together as a community to celebrate his remarkable life. Joining us will be special guests speaking about their connections to P-22 -- and how he also connected us all.'' The two-hour event is expected to include musical performances, dancing and food, according to the theater.
More information is expected to be released in coming days through the theater and at www.savelacougers.org. The lion, one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National Park Service researchers, gained fame locally for his persistence and durability, successfully managing to cross both the San Diego (405) and Hollywood (101) freeways to reach his recent roaming grounds in the Griffith Park area.
Known as the ``Hollywood Cat,'' P-22 became the face of the NPS's program to track local lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. His exploits were documented in various media accounts, including his daring freeway crossings, hiding out under a Los Feliz home in a standoff that drew widespread attention and even being named a suspect in the killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.
He was believed to be about 11 or 12 years old, making him the oldest cat in the NPS' study of Southland lions. He is believed to have been born in the Santa Monica Mountains, somehow finding his way to his tiny, nine-square-mile home in Griffith Park, separated from his birth area by two of the busiest freeways in the world.
Defying expectations, he persisted for more than 10 years in the smallest home range that has ever been recorded for an adult male mountain lion.
He was initially captured and outfitted with a tracking collar in 2012. At the time of his last capture, he weighed 123 pounds. After he was captured earlier this month, wildlife experts said P-22 had facial injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle. Experts ultimately made the decision to humanely euthanize the animal at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where he was being treated, to spare him further suffering.
``P-22's advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life- shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome," according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
His death has led to an outpouring of emotion from residents and wildlife lovers who have long followed the cat's exploits. A memorial sunset hike was held in his memory in Griffith Park the day after his death.
The cat's remains have since been taken to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but exactly what will be done with them remains unknown. Local tribal leaders -- who consider cougars to be sacred -- have objected to the suggestion that the lion be placed on display at the museum, arguing instead that he be buried in Griffith Park. Museum officials said Friday that they took part in a ``blessing ceremony'' to welcome P-22's remains to the facility. Attending that ceremony were representatives from the Gabrielino-Shoshone, Akimel O'otham, Luiseño, Gabrielino-Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash tribes.
``Decisions regarding next steps will continue to be made together with local tribes, with more information provided as it becomes available,'' museum officials said in a statement Friday.