Los Feliz residents Cylin Busby and Damon Ross returned home Saturday night after watching the horror film “Barbarian,” in which a young woman enters a tenement and is surprised to spot an unexpected guest.
As they drove to their home near Griffith Park, the couple spotted the silhouette of a tall and imposing figure in their driveway. They’d seen coyotes and raccoons in the neighborhood before, but nothing like that.
“We were particularly nervous after that film,” said Ross, a 50-year-old producer at DreamWorks Animation.
It turned out to be the mountain lion named P-22, who plopped down in front of her house, just a few meters from the car. The cougar has long lived in the Griffith Park area.
P-22 surprised the world when it first appeared a decade ago in the park scientists thought was too urban and too small to support mountain lions. Scientists assumed it would eventually leave the park, but it has stayed, eating mule deer and raccoons and occasionally appearing on security cameras, sparking a media frenzy.
On this occasion, the animal seemed calm and comfortable in its surroundings.
“He lay down like he was about to take a nap,” said Busby, a 52-year-old actor and screenwriter who has also written books, including one loosely based on Franny, a cat who appears in Skylight Books. lives in Los Feliz.
As the pair stared at the mountain lion, Ross grabbed his phone to snap a photo.
“We were a lot more worried than he was,” Ross said.
At first, the couple didn’t know what to do. Should they call the police? What if the mountain lion jumps on the car?
“I googled who to call?” said Busby, who has lived in the area for 12 years but had never seen a mountain lion before. “I wasn’t planning on tearing down a window and I don’t want to bother him, but we have to get into our house eventually.”
Ana Beatriz Cholo, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica Mountains area of the National Park Service, said she has not confirmed whether the mountain lion was P-22.
“But no other mountain lions live in Griffith Park or in that area,” she said, adding that it’s not uncommon for P-22s to venture outside of the park.
He’s been a celebrity since National Geographic published a photo of P-22 roaming the hills below the Hollywood sign in 2013. In addition to its glossy spread in the magazine, it is the subject of a documentary and an exhibition at the Natural History Museum. By order of the City Council, October 22 is “P-22 Day” in Los Angeles.
Despite the animal’s intimidating presence, mountain lions rarely attack humans, said Tiffany Yap, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona. It seems the animals are the ones to fear more in an urban setting, with more than 100 killed on roads in California each year, Yap said.
“This is a great example of why we need to think about how we can safely coexist with the wildlife around us,” Yap said of the pair’s sighting, adding that Ross and Busby had done a great job by being in stayed in their car and waited for the mountain lion to leave.
Three or four minutes after being spotted, the mountain lion scampered to the olive trees on the hillside next to the couple’s home. He disappeared, reappeared on a neighbor’s security camera 90 minutes later, and then disappeared again.
“It was an up-close look at a true natural beauty,” said Busby. “He was a really handsome cat.”
The couple have a rescue tabby cat, Billie Jean, who “isn’t particularly thrilled that all the attention isn’t on her,” Ross said.
He’s worked with Sam Rockwell and Jack Black, but Saturday was “the best celebrity sighting we’ve ever seen.”
Still, Busby saw a bit of sadness in the cougar’s eyes.
“The story that resonates the most with people is, if I can speak for my husband and I, that he’s alone over here. He has no name. He has no companions,” she said. “You can’t help but feel a little sad for him.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-09/a-los-feliz-couple-comes-within-three-feet-of-mountain-lion-believed-to-be-p-22 Los Feliz couple encounter mountain lion believed to be P-22