Santa Monica Mountains Native Mountain Lion Likely Responsible for Koala Mauling

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P-22 Suffering from Mange

A gruesome discovery at the Los Angeles Zoo last Thursday, March 3, was identified as the likely doing of P-22 — a mountain lion native to the Santa Monica Mountains. 

On the morning of March 3, zookeepers conducted a koala headcount and discovered that one of their 11 koalas was missing from its enclosure. A tuft of hair was spotted near the enclosure and, soon after, the mauled body of Killarney — the oldest koala in the exhibit — was found 400 yards away, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Although actual footage of the attack was not caught on surveillance devices, park officials did obtain footage of P-22 wandering around the zoo the night the koala was killed. Park officials told the LA Times that the mountain lion likely hopped an eight-foot wall to enter the koala enclosure and snatch its victim some time between the night of March 2 and the morning of March 3. The 14-year-old female koala was known for wandering the enclosure floor at night.

Studies by UCLA and University of California, Davis show that P-22 was born in the Santa Monica Mountains and most likely crossed the 101 and 405 freeways to make Griffith Park its home in 2012. The puma is best known for a photograph taken by a National Geographic wildlife photographer of him roaming in front of the Hollywood sign. He was later seen suffering, and recovering from, mange.

Zoo officials have been taking extra precautions since the attack and have installed additional cameras in attempt to find out how P-22 entered the park.