November 3, 2020


LA's Resident Mountain Lion is a Lonely Hunter (Simon Stephenson, November 3, 2020, Lit Hub)

But if a mountain lion is a real lion, P22's chosen home of Griffith Park is not a real park. It is far more than that: an eight square-mile urban wilderness of hills and canyons that also encompasses an observatory and a zoo. It is not a park but a kingdom, and P22 holds dominion over every inch of it.

At Cahuenga Peak, Griffith Park's highest point, he can look down over the Hollywood sign to the lights of Los Angeles and out to the pacific ocean; turn to the east and there is Burbank and the Disney campus, birthplace of that other young lion who came to rule a kingdom.

Yet for all its vistas, P22's own kingdom is an island nation, hemmed in on three sides by freeways and on the fourth by the city itself. P22's parents roamed the rural Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu to the far west, and to reach Griffith Park our princeling must have somehow crossed both the Hollywood and San Diego Freeways. Understandably, he seems unwilling to risk ever doing so again.

To begin with, P22's journey was indisputably worth it. Mountain lions are fiercely territorial and with its shade, water and all-you-can-eat mule deer buffet, Griffith Park was the perfect place for a young male to grow without challenge. Unlike in the Pride Lands or the rural Santa Monica mountains, here there were no nepoticidal uncles; here the worst it seemed could happen was for P22 to be tranquilized and radio-collared by the park rangers.

To be forever alone in your own kingdom seems a unique kind of heartbreak, and I wish P22 knew how beloved he is.
Once we knew he was up there, his new neighbors quickly fell in love with P22. The LA Times obtained the data from his radio collar and ran a feature entitled "A week in the life of P22." Our lion king began his week on the park's northern edge at Forest Lawn, the classier of Hollywood's two celebrity cemeteries. But P22 had not gone there to pay his respects to Carrie Fisher or Bette Davis: the mule deer visit the cemetery to eat the flowers left by grieving fans, and P22 goes to eat the mule deer.

Over the next seven days, the LA Times reported, P22 prowled the entirety of Griffith Park, up to Cahuenga Peak and the Hollywood sign, before descending at dawn to drink from the cool waters of the Lake Hollywood reservoir. Just as they do with a Brad or a Leo, the newspaper respectfully kept back any information that might lead over-enthusiastic fans to P22's resting places or secret haunts.  Here in Los Angeles, everybody understands that even the biggest celebrities need their privacy.

Posted by at November 3, 2020 12:00 AM