Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Mountain Lion Living in the Middle of Los Angeles

Griffith Park, in the center of Los Angeles, city of cars and dry mountains, rogue and devil, thief and artist, where the ocean is blue and the beaches warm, city of a thousand contradictions, built up on the river-dammed water empire of western dams-- Griffith Park, only 4,200 acres, is now home to a mountain lion, named "P-22," after his wildlife monitoring tag. He descended the Santa Monica Mountains, crossed the notoriously dangerous 405 highway, and took up residence back in February. These photographs and words from an August article in the Los Angeles Times, are truly, deeply, moving.

The fact that he moved in to the middle of the park speaks not only to the cougar's courage and adaptability, but also to his desperation, hemmed in on all sides by urban landscapes. Mountain lions, particularly male, need up to 100 square miles of territory, sometimes more-- and they will kill other males who step over the line. When cities grow up in every direction around wild spaces, it seems to be move in or die.

This is him, P-22, as photographed by the National Park Service, in Griffith Park
And I must say, while I'm at it, that the following image grabs at my gut and makes me upset in too many ways to name:

The new logo for Apple's latest operating system, Mountain Lion 10.8.

On the most visceral level, this is disturbing because the precise location of Apple Headquarters— this twisted new Eden of technologies (blessing and curse at once, indeed, these new Apples we pick)— the Silicon Valley, enroaches more and more, with every new contraption made and business drawn to that insanely rich area, on the territories of mountain lions in the Santa Cruz mountains. This is actually of enough concern that the Bay Area Puma Project was created to study and monitor mountain lion populations there and throughout the rest of the Bay Area, in order to gather enough data to make an argument for the creation of wildlife corridors between wild spaces, so that lions don't become trapped in mini-wilderness-islands, like P-22, with, soon enough, no where else for their kittens to turn to.

Mostly, I don't mean to rant. I just wanted to share this article about P-22, the extraordinary cat who lives in Los Angeles. What a brave creature. The photograph of his face, staring directly at the camera, is haunting. It cuts right into your heart.


  1. And this is my neighborhood right now. Griffith Park. I'm in LA.

    When I lived in Sedona, about 7 years ago, I was almost dinner. Luckily I heard the mountain lion moving it's butt back and forth, as cats do when pouncing. I was on my front porch. I had a magazine with me and slapped it over my head while yelling. (AHHHHH - which translates as, "I am not prey.") I saw it the next night too, a stunningly beautiful creature. We were in the midst of a drought and all the animals were coming close to town for water.