Meet the Real Cougars (Mountain Lions) of L.A.

Blonde. Powerful. Amazing teeth. Not the Real Housewives—but mountain lions, the real cougars of L.A!

These wide roaming and territorial cats are at risk because their habitat is being cut up and cut off by highways and development. Twelve mountain lions have died trying to cross busy southern California freeways that slice through their wilderness.

National Wildlife Federation’s campaign to build a wildlife crossing over ten lanes of freeway at Liberty Canyon will provide safe passage for wildlife like mountain lions in this area. Meet a few of these cougars, read their stories and find out how you can help them survive among us!

The Real Cougars of L.A.
Mountain lions living in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles. Get the poster! Photos: National Park Service from the Santa Monica Mountains Mountain Lion Study


~ 8 years old

P13’s homerange is the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Malibu Creek State Park to Point Mugu State Park. She’s had at least two litters of kittens. Her father is also her grandfather – a first-order inbreeding event between a father and a daughter.  (This happens because these mountain lions are so restricted and hemmed in.)


Died in 2011, at age 5
P18 dispersed from his mother’s home range in the Malibu Creek State Park area in mid-June 2011. He began slowly making his way east through the mountains. Within several months, he made his way east to Topanga State Park area. Likely in an effort to find a territory of his own, free of other males, he tried to cross the I-405 where he was hit by a car near the Getty Center.


5 years old
P18’s sister, she’s the only surviving mountain lion from the litter of kittens born to P13. In September 2012, P19 produced a litter of kittens, fathered by her father, P12.  This is the second case of first-order inbreeding documented in the Santa Monica mountain lion population. The kittens, P23 and P24, show no obvious signs of health consequences associated with inbreeding.


~6 years old
This cat is quite the celebrity. He’s known as the Hollywood Lion, photographed by a National Geographic photographer with the famous Hollywood sign in the background. He miraculously survived crossing two of LA’s highly trafficked freeways in search of a new home and has taken up residence at L.A.’s Griffith Park.

He remains hemmed in by multiple freeways and has no opportunities for mating.


2 years old
One of four kittens born to P13 (mom) and P12 (father), biologists tracked her down when her mother started denning, meaning she confined her movements to a very small area. Two of her siblings died at a young age of abandonment.

Right now, she and her brother are traveling with mom.


Killed in 2015, not quite 2 years old
P32 was the first and only young male mountain lion known to have successfully crossed three highways and make it north out of the Santa Monica Mountains in search of new territory.  He was struck by a car and killed while trying to cross Interstate 5 in August 2015.

P32’s story sadly illustrates the challenges mountain lions in this region face, particularly males.


8 years old
Weighing in at a solid 130 pounds, P41 is the first cougar to be fitted with a tracking device in the Verdugo Mountains, a 19-square-mile range that lies a few miles from the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. He was just found this May!

Male cougars typically need up to 250 square miles, so biologists are looking to see if his territory includes the nearby southern San Gabriel Mountains, which would require crossing wide and busy Interstate 210.


2 months old
Born this summer, P43 was found under thick brush in a remote area near Malibu Creek State Park. Her mother is P23, who was memorably photographed about two years ago atop a dead deer on Mulholland Highway. Like most mountain lion cubs, she just began opening her beautiful blue eyes a short time ago!


2 months old
California’s new cougar, P44, lives in the Santa Susana Mountains and is the daughter of P35. Biologists aren’t sure yet which mountain lion is her father. She and P43 are the only single-kitten litters that federal biologists have documented locally since 2002.

Now she’s traveling with mom, learning how to hunt for food.

Help Mountain Lions Survive

These treasured mountain lions and all wildlife living in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles need safe crossing between essential habitat areas to survive. National Wildlife Federation and our partners are advocating for a wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon that would save the lives of countless wildlife.

Donate now!Protect vulnerable wildlife from harm and help give mountain lions safe crossing over dangerous roads!