L.A. Times readers eulogize mountain lion P-22

What was it about P-22 that touched us humans so deeply?

Were we drawn to his majestic strut, captured in occasional snatches of video? Or did we connect with his solitary struggle to survive in a big, dangerous city seemingly disconnected from the natural world? Maybe it had to do with our guilt for making life so hard for Southern California’s mountain lions.

It is undeniable that readers loved P-22.

“Grief is just another form of love and P-22 was so loved,” wrote Serita Colette of Highland Park. “His presence reflects our inherent connection, and why we need to wake up. There is something profound about P-22’s magnitude and this collective grief of ours. Language won’t suffice.”

“There is a certain kind of character found in the stories Hollywood tells,” wrote Jon Ozias of Hollywood. “They can be broadly seen as ‘man against the world’ types, but this seems to miss the point. They’re not actually against the world. What they are is determined to live in it on their own terms and the world seems against that.

“But for all the stories of this type Hollywood has written, it’s hard to think of one more compelling than the one actually lived by P-22.”

Our readers mourn P-22 and reflect on his impact and what we can do now for his threatened species.

This gorgeous creature roamed my neighborhood for many moons. Long before Ring cameras, neighbors would share thrilling sightings of him doing his lion-y things upon the local landscape. We all just adored him and considered him part of the neighborhood family. He was equally fearsome and comforting and will be supremely missed. Love to P-22 wherever he now prowls.

— Catherine Meyers, Hollywood Dell

P-22 was Ambassador of the Wild, linking community & landscape. His life was invaluable to us all, motivating our deepening, heartfelt care for the remnant green world & its denizens. Our collective grief at his loss is far more than simple loss of an adored, admired individual. It is recognition that Angelenos have lost something wild, beautiful, brave & free within us.

— Bruce Klein, Bishop/Wilkerson Ranch

I join in the grief shared by thousands of Angelenos today. P-22 stole our hearts and spurred action to create an environment where we, the interlopers, could co-exist with him, one of the indigenous inhabitants of the land.

— Aurelia Huerta, Hawaiian Gardens

In this May 2020 shot, P-22 appears wary of the trail camera.

In this May 2020 shot, P-22 appears wary of the trail camera.

(Miguel Ordeñana / Natural History Museum)

L.A. is such a sprawling, diverse place that no one person, place, or activity could really fully represent the city. But for the last decade P-22 felt like the closest thing we had to a city symbol, all the more so after improbably making his home near another high-profile symbol like the Hollywood sign. We knew he’d be gone eventually, but his passing still feels like an irreplaceable loss for Los Angeles.

— Matt M., West Los Angeles

No doubt that great cat at some point saw my buddies and I suffering up Mt. Hollywood on our bikes every Saturday. I love and will miss you, big fella. Thank you for not eating me.

— Steve Meister, Sherman Oaks

Though I never saw or met P-22 face to face, following his story regularly has been nothing short of incredible. He showed nature’s resiliency in the face of unchecked urbanization. It is amazing to think that one wild cat could change our whole perspective on how we live with nature in Los Angeles; a beautiful animal with eyes that could pierce even the hardest of souls. Though it is not the end any of us wished for, we can be thankful that his legacy will continue by knowing that wildlife such as coyotes, deer, skunks, raccoons and even mountain lions are very much a part of the rich tapestry, history and beauty that is Los Angeles.

— Wai-Lum Weise, Silver Lake

P-22 prowls Griffith Park

P-22 was believed to have been 12 or 13 years old, at the upper end of the life expectancy for a mountain lion in the wild.

(Miguel Ordeñana / Natural History Museum)

I’m in a state of shock. The thought that he was out there, somewhere, was always a comfort to me. Will miss him terribly.

— Lynn Ridgley, Los Angeles

There was always something about this big cat, something that as domestic cat lovers we could relate to. We knew he was living on the edge and just in the last couple of months, two mountain lions have been hit and killed on the freeway. The burden of stopping the pain and suffering of our animal brethren is a real one and we do not take it lightly.

— Deborah Bennett, Moreno Valley

I am so sad for the passing of P-22 and am crying as I write this. He was a true icon and rockstar, one of the most beloved celebrities in Los Angeles. A true survivor. I thank him for bringing awareness to the plight of urban wildlife, and especially the urban mountain lions. May he forever roam happy and free in the great beyond. P-22: Los Angeles loved you with all it’s heart. I love you and will forever carry you with me in my memories.

— Brenda Ferrell, North Hollywood

An image of P-22 near the Los Angeles Zoo on March 2, 2016.

An image of P-22 near the Los Angeles Zoo on March 2, 2016.

(Los Angeles Zoo)

As someone who has hiked Griffith Park for the last four decades, I want to thank P-22 for his regal restraint. Although I was wary of a mountain lion in the park, particularly when first reported, over time it became clear Mr. P-22 was not interested in humans and, though I expect he may have seen me over the years, he never made contact. How it should be. RIP, King.

— Jim Arnold, Valley Village

I was 20 years old when I found out about P-22, yet I’ve been living in Los Angeles my whole life. I’ve also been a regular visitor of Griffith Park for as long as I can remember, and learning about P-22 opened my eyes to realize that Los Angeles isn’t just my home, but a home to many wildlife. Every time I hiked the trails of Griffith I’d think about P-22 and if he’s walked the same ones as well. I also night hike by Hollywood Lake and wondered if he’d roam there too. I loved and still love the thought of sharing trails with wildlife, although now it saddens me to think P-22 won’t walk the same trails. He was such a beauty and I thank him for reminding us that this is their home as much as it is ours. We lost a beautiful neighbor, one that wouldn’t ask for much but just respect for our environment and wildlife, one that left a huge imprint in our city. I’m now 22 and if there is anything I’d like to come out of P-22’s passing is that we educate our youth of the many animals that call Los Angeles their home, maybe this way we can continue to have friendly neighbors like P-22 that deserve a thriving environment.

— Scheila Perez, East Los Angeles

P-22 and I came to L.A. around the same time, both with so much opportunity in front of us: the potential to build our own life away from the limitations of our birth territory and fulfill our dreams (or biological imperatives). Over time those paths diverged and it was painful to realize how limited P-22 actually was, even from the start. Nature will always be cruel, but the two-legged could do better to give all creatures the opportunity to thrive, including our own. I hope that will be P-22’s legacy.

— Drew Brauer, Windsor Hills

P-22, like the endangered Southern California steelhead, is my hero — wild, iconic, legendary and beautiful. He made me aware of the wildness of our mountains and the treacherous barriers we’ve created for wildlife movement. I want to fight even harder to protect our iconic wildlife and their habitats. We must coexist with nature. Following P-22’s life and those of our other iconic species like the illusive steelhead, we must swiftly bring down barriers to coexistence and leave a legacy of connectedness, beauty, love and integrity through watershed stewardship, science and investment now. Thank you, P-22, for your beauty, strength, and perseverance. I will think of you always as the cat that graced L.A. with wildness.

— Wendy Katagi, Rancho Palos Verdes and downtown Los Angeles

P-22 visited a home in nearby Beachwood Canyon on Jan. 4, 2022.

P-22 climbs a home’s patio fence in Beachwood Canyon on Jan. 4, 2022.

(Leilani Fideler)

He was the truest Angeleno there ever was. Whenever I would see the shadow of Griffith Park at night, knowing he was up there somewhere roaming his territory, I used to say a small prayer to P-22. It felt like communing with something real and ancient in a city obsessed with cheap newness. He was an icon, and inspiration, and lonely like the rest of us. He was the tether to L.A.’s wild soul. He meant so much to me, and Los Angeles is less of itself without him. All I can hope for now is that money is raised to build a monument in his honor, our greatest Angeleno.

— Mark Pampanin, El Sereno

The king is dead. Long live the king! This feels like the passing of a beloved monarch. P-22 was about as close to a “king” as L.A. has ever had, and although he has no immediate successor, his reign over our city inspired the funding of the Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which all but assures the continuation of his species in the Santa Monica Mountains. A royal legacy, indeed. RIP, P-22.

— Scott Kampmeyer, Sherman Oaks

This beautiful cat, who I will not disrespect by calling him a number, has for years elicited my hope and my despair for wild animals everywhere. He was, in a word, magnificent. He offered us glimpses into the awe-inspiring secret lives and personalities of our wild kin and hopefully awakened many people to this mysterious and endearing world and its inhabitants. He endured much suffering at the hands of humans (poison, vehicle strikes) as virtually all wild animals do but managed to give me hope for all the wild. I will always love him.

— Pamela Williams, San Diego

In this May 2020 shot, P-22 appears wary of the trail camera.

In this May 2020 shot, P-22 appears wary of the trail camera.

(Miguel Ordeñana / Natural History Museum)

P-22 taught me that wild lions, the stuff of human nightmares, can spark your imagination about what life in Los Angeles is really about. It’s about the wild coexisting with a mega city, about accepting we are not the top predator here. I do a lot of field work and have encountered other lions here and it makes me proud and happy to live here, with a healthy dose of dread and chills when I am on their ground. RIP, P-22, and thank you for the wild times.

— Dan Tormey, Santa Monica

I love hiking after dark. In 2012, just prior to the P-22 story breaking, I’d found myself on the Mt. Hollywood summit after dark, stupidly without my headlamp or any light source in my pack. Forced to hike back to the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round lot in total darkness, I discovered how much wildlife lives in the park, that could be seen silhouetted against the city lights. Prowling as I was in the darkness above, I watched deer and coyotes, all innocent to my presence. Weeks later, when the P-22 story broke, I would wonder if maybe yet another presence lurked above me that night in Griffith Park.

— Kevin Corcoran, Valencia

P-22 courageously embarked on the hero’s life journey to the unknown when he crossed the freeway, exemplified by so many humans in literature and every day life through the ages. In doing so he helped us to connect with him and all of nature and left us a lasting gift.

— Deborah Wells Ah-Tye, Santa Barbara

P-22 climbs down a rock formation in Griffith Park in the wee hours of March 22, 2021.

P-22 climbs down a rock formation in Griffith Park in the wee hours of March 22, 2021.

(Miguel Ordeñana / Natural History Museum )

Growing up in L.A., wildlife isn’t usually the first thing on your radar. Probably not even the second.

Between the fast-moving traffic, beach and rush of SoCal living, wildlife is seldom seen, and seldom celebrated.

P-22 changed that. As a young kid in the early 2000s, P-22 was like a celebrity for me. P-22 Day was a holiday, and i spent that day with my family learning all about Los Angeles and it’s dwindling wildlife. His presence sparked my love for wildlife, despite growing up in a concrete jungle.

Thank you P-22 and all the scientists, park rangers and big cat enthusiasts for sharing P-22 with all of us.

It’s time to stop expanding and start protecting our wildlife neighbors. Love you, P-22.

—An L.A. kiddo

— Jackie Au, Hollywood

Sadly … I am reminded that there is much work to be done to protect our local wildlife. Rest easy, P-22. Your suffering will not be in vain.

— Tom Rodriguez, Pomona

It was with deep sadness I read that P-22 is dead. His life has captivated and opened up the eyes of so many people around the globe. You were the victim of human encroachment and the fact that there are too many of us — demanding all space, something making life for other species more and more difficult. Hopefully you have started an awakening for how we humans steadily are destroying the habitat of all other species. P-22, RIP.

— Vidar Gunstvedt, Kristiansand, Norway

P-22 appeared healthy and strong while feeding on the carcass of a mule deer in Griffith Park in December 2014.

P-22 appeared healthy and strong while feeding on the carcass of a mule deer in Griffith Park in December 2014.

(National Park Service)

I can’t pinpoint precisely why P-22’s death has caused me to sob like a close friend or family member has passed, but I know his presence here gave Los Angeles an extra bit of magic, majesty and a huge dose of humility to be reminded that our concrete jungle was all he had now as well. I can only hope his legacy will be to make it a touch easier for the next lion to be able to thrive among us.

— Trish Hadley, Monterey Hills

I am saddened by this news, but also deeply touched by this icon. Grief is just another form of love, and P-22 was so loved. His presence reflects our inherent connection, and why we need to wake up. There is something profound about P-22’s magnitude and this collective grief of ours. Language won’t suffice. Thank you, P-22. Rest easy.

— Serita Colette, Highland Park

It’s heartening to know that there are still natural habitats in L.A. where wildlife like P-22 can live. We hope his death will renew local efforts to retain and enhance wild places within the city boundaries, where wildlife can safely flourish.

— Kim Graybiel, Regina, Canada

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-19/readers-remember-and-mourn-p-22-mountain-lion L.A. Times readers eulogize mountain lion P-22

Alley Einstein

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