The Real Story of the Hollywood Lion
P22 Dilemma is Inbreeding
In Griffith Park there is a single mountain lion known as P22. This solitary creature came from the Santa Monica Mountains, crossing over the 101 freeway and the 405 freeway to get to the park. This 4 year old male was captured again buy the National Park Service in 2014 in order to change its tracker battery and found to have notoedric mange, which is a parasite of the skin and hair. It is also known to affect bobcats in Southern California.
In bobcats a strong association between mange and anticoagulants used in rat poisons has been established. It’s thought that the anticoagulants weaken the immune systems of the cats which in turn make them susceptible to various health problems. But the experts aren’t taking into account another issue that is affecting the mountain lions immune system.
Mountain lions were free roaming cats and travel large distances for food and mating purposes. As their habitat becomes more compact they are becoming more isolated. Cougars that could bring new genetic material can’t manage to get across the freeways, the 10 foot high fences along freeways and other barriers place in their way by human expansion. One such lion that could have brought new genetic material to the Santa Monica Mountain area was killed trying to cross the 101 freeway just last year.
The National Park Service studied 6 kitten litters in the Santa Monica Mountains and found that their father mates with his offspring. “A preliminary paternity result from UCLA’s Robert Wayne Lab indicates that Puma 12, known as P-12, is the father of three of the litters of new kittens and was the father of one of their mothers, P-19”. Inbreeding leads to a loss of genetic diversity, heart problems and a lower resistance to diseases and is a big part of the health problems these lions are facing.