On Saturday, February 4, 2023, thousands of Angelenos gathered in the Greek Theatre to honor the life of a beloved local icon: a mountain lion named P-22. P-22 was a wild symbol of freedom, who had become a celebrated part of local folklore over the past several years. However, the lone male was eventually overcome by the challenge of life in urban surroundings and had to be euthanized late last year after being hit by a car.
The memorial, organized by the National Wildlife Federation, was a massive campaign for wildlife conservation, watched by thousands onsite and many more online. Speakers included scientists, advocates, politicians, celebrities, and Native American representatives. The event lasted for over three hours and was streamed online to thousands of viewers.
The National Wildlife Foundation also aims to raise $500 million for wildlife crossings in the next five years. Elected officials, including Los Angeles City Councilmember Nithya Raman, state Assemblymember Laura Friedman, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, and U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, honored their mountain lion constituent.
Though rarely sighted, P-22 had become a beloved, almost mythological presence, often compared to the human celebrities who dominate local culture. His death has increased awareness of the vulnerability of the state’s mountain lion population, with one to two mountain lions being killed on the state’s roads each week.
The memorial for P-22 was a powerful reminder of the wild spirit of nature in a city overrun by concrete and asphalt. It was a celebration of the life of an L.A. icon and a reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation.