Did you know that Los Angeles has 390 public parks and 15, 710 acres of parkland? One of the area’s most popular and well known parks is Griffith Park, which, at over 4,000 acres, is the nation’s largest urban municipal park. By comparison, New York City’s Central Park is only 843 acres in size.
While Griffith Park gets 10 million visitors annually, who like to play golf and tennis, attend concerts at the Greek Theater, or hike its many trails, there is one particular park “visitor” that has captured L.A.’s attention: “P-22.”
P-22 is a puma, or mountain lion, who somehow wandered over to Griffith Park from the Santa Monica Mountains, and now calls the park home. He had to get across the busy 101 and 405 freeways to get to Griffith Park.
Don’t worry—you probably won’t see P-22 in person if you visit. Some wildlife researchers have seen him, but then again they were on the hunt to find him. As the 22nd mountain lion that Santa Monica Mountains National Park Service biologists have found, he got the name Puma 22, or P-22.
P-22 has become somewhat of a cult celebrity in L.A., with his own Twitter account(s) of all things!
At night, P-22 eats mule deer, raccoon and coyote to stay alive. During the day, he rests among dense vegetation, elusive to park guests. So far, he’s happily at home in Griffith Park. As the only mountain lion in the park, he has no competition for food.
How do people know P-22 really exists? A remote camera set up for a wildlife survey caught the puma’s face in 2012. Later that year, scientists set a humane trap with cameras to be able to see the lion in person. After the lion received a sedative from a blow dart, scientists attached a collar that would allow them to track the whereabouts of P-22. That’s how scientists know specifically what P-22 eats—researchers are able to track the animal and go to places where he killed his prey.
P-22 is a relatively young mountain lion, and it’s most likely he’ll leave the park and head east to the Santa Monica Mountains to find a mate when he gets older.