P-22 reminds us that we need more nature

A famous celebrity was laid to rest last month, P-22, the Hollywood mountain lion.

National Park Service | Public Domain
Hollywood mountain lion P-22 in 2014

A famous celebrity was laid to rest last month, P-22, the Hollywood mountain lion.  

I live a block from where he was captured on December 12, 2022 in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.   He was captured in a neighbor’s backyard after signs of deteriorating health.

It wasn’t really a surprise that he would be found so close. He lived in nearby Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks with wilderness in the nation, just over a mile from our house.   I spend a considerable amount of time hiking and walking in Griffith Park with family and friends.  

While I never saw P-22 in the park, knowing that he lived there kept my adrenaline pumping on our 6AM pandemic walks.  We did see plenty of other wild animals including bunnies, deer, hawks, snakes and coyotes and we always knew that P-22 could be prowling nearby.  And we knew he frequented our neighborhood from the Ring videos posted on NextDoor over the last few months.  

I love the fact that we share the city with such amazingly beautiful creatures,  a city more known for movies, amusement parks and freeways than wildlife.

Los Angeles is a big city with skyscrapers and concretized river channels but there is also room for wild animals, big ones!  P22 is the most famous, but he’s not the only lion studied by the National Park Service.  Puma-22 is the 22nd out of  100! Lions in the Santa Monica mountains.  Such an excellent reminder that protecting nature isn’t just something to be done in far away places.

There are a lot of hazards for mountain lions including rodenticides, in-breeding from a lack of robust territory and vehicle collisions.  A vehicle collision seems to have been the last straw for P-22, right up the street, a few days before  was captured. The crash didn’t kill him but it seems to have fractured his skull.

P-22’s death leads me to want to work even harder to protect nature as the 190 nations gathered for the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity announced their intentions to do the same week P-22 was pulled in for his health evaluation.   For our part, there are three immediate things we can do:

  1. We can continue to support wildlife crossings like the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, across the 101 freeway here in Los Angeles.  There are already 1000 crossings in America but we need tens of thousands to give our beloved critters a way to connect to the habit they need to survive and thrive.
  2. We can support action by the U.S. Congress in passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). It would provide funding for state agencies across America to support wildlife conservation.
  3. We can support the establishment of the LA City Wildlife Ordinance which would help to preserve wildlife and promote habitat connectivity  in the Santa Monica Mountains between the 405 and 101 freeways.   

And if you’re in Los Angeles, join me at a celebration of life for P-22. Details here:    https://www.lagreektheatre.com/events/detail/p-22-celebration-of-life.  


Wendy Wendlandt

President, Environment America; Senior Vice President, The Public Interest Network

​​As president of Environment America, Wendy is a leading voice for the environment in the United States. She has been quoted in major national, state and local news outlets for nearly 40 years on issues ranging from air pollution to green investing. She is also a senior vice president with The Public Interest Network. She is a founding board member of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizers, and Green Century Funds, the nation’s first family of fossil fuel free mutual funds. Wendy started with WashPIRG, where she led campaigns to create Washington state’s model toxic waste cleanup program and to stop the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste dump site. She is a 1983 graduate of Whitman College. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dog and hikes wherever and whenever she can.