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A Thank You From P-22, Mountain Lion of Hollywood
Looking back on Urban Wildlife Week
Despite my celebrity status as the world’s most famous mountain lion, I am pretty much just an ordinary cougar. I spend most of my time cruising through my territory, looking for my next deer meal, and taking lots of cat naps. But I do make my home in an unusual place — the middle of the second largest city in the country.
I love L.A., and Angelinos have been pretty good to me, but I am trapped by some of the busiest freeways in the United States. I’ll probably never get a date, although I do dream of P-23, a plucky female cougar who lives just 20 miles away. Sadly, we’ll probably never meet as the 101 and 405 divides us. L.A. traffic has ruined many a romance.
Even for a solitary animal by nature, I still do get a bit lonely here in Griffith Park. So you can imagine how touched I was to learn that folks hosted an entire week of events in my honor recently — the first P-22 Day & Urban Wildlife Week.
Although the party-goers didn’t see me (we are nicknamed ghost cats for a reason), I saw them. I admit the celebration was enough to make even a tough cougar like me a little emotional. I mean what a week: schoolkids read me letters, hikers walked almost 50 miles to retrace my route, 2,000 people came out for P-22 Day, and the Annenberg Foundation donated a $1 million challenge grant.
Here are some highlights from my special week:
The Los Angeles City Council declared October 22 official P-22 Day! Councilmembers Koretz and Councilmember Ryu made this happen and Koretz read the whole resolution on stage. I bet I am the only cougar in the world to be honored with an official day-sort of makes crossing those freeways worth it.
The Annenberg Foundation gave a million dollar challenge grant to help #SaveLACougars and build the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon. This makes such an important difference for us cougars. Thanks a million!
A group of hikers led by NWF’s California Director, Beth Pratt-Bergstrom — who even wore an actual mountain lion collar like the National Park Service uses in their research — retraced my likely route from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park, trekking 48 miles over 3 ½ days in record heat. Glad they were as lucky as I was crossing the 405.
I even got my own dance move! John Griffith and his crew from the California Conservation Corps performed their Bioblitz dance at P-22 Day and created a special P-22 dance. Let’s see this in the clubs, LA!
[youtube]https://youtu.be/NHynQru5dFQ[/youtube]Video courtesy Gurl RUN
What also meant a lot to me was the blessing from the Native American community. At the hike kick off, Mati Waiya performed a beautiful Chumash blessing and song. During a celebration at Topanga Elementary School, Chief Ernest Salas of The Kizh Nation Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians conducted a ceremony to give me a native name: To-koo-ro’t.
And my favorite part? The kids. Schools across the Los Angeles area attended P-22 Day including about 500 students, and they also spent time learning about me and other mountain lions in their classes. The Los Angeles Unified School District Northwest along with Esperneza Elementary even did a presentationon stage at P-22 Day. Topanga Elementary threw me a big party and did a school assembly, and Milken High School and the Muse School hosted stops on the hike.
So a big thank you to LA — and the world — for watching out for me. Being dateless is serious business — my cougar relatives and I am facing extinction because of not being able to get across the roads here. Yet because of people like you, I know we will get the wildlife crossing built over the 101 to make sure LA cougars have a future.
P.S. Hope to see you next year at the second annual P-22 Day on Sunday, October 22, 2017!
Want to learn more and get involved? Visit www.savelacougars.org
P-22 also thanks the planning committee (below) who helped make the event possible along with everyone who participated in the week’s events.
National Park Service, Friends of Griffith Park, Santa Monica Mountains Fund, City of Calabasas, Office of Assembly Member Richard Bloom, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Los Angeles Unified School District Northwest, City of Agoura Hills, Mia Lehrer Associates, Grown in LA, Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Renaker Development Research, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Topanga Creek Watershed Committee, Topanga Elementary School, City of Thousand Oaks, Office of Senator Pavley, Friends of Los Angeles River, Caltrans, City of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, #SaveLACougars Campaign Advisory Team