Famous California mountain lion celebrated at event in Los Angeles Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A National Park Service photo of a Griffith Park mountain lion, known as P-22, is shown in this remote camera image placed on a freshly dead deer in Griffith Park in this November 2014 photo.REUTERS/National Park Service/Handout

(Reuters) – California’s iconic mountain lion was celebrated at a sold-out event at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday, with thousands of fans paying tribute to the big cat’s life and contribution to urban wildlife.

The mountain lion, named P-22 and believed to be about 12 years old, has become a celebrity in Los Angeles after living in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills for more than a decade, crossing busy highways to take up residence in and around Griffith Park.

The P-22, famously photographed passing the iconic Hollywood sign, has become a popular symbol of campaigns to save California’s endangered population of mountain lions, also known as cougars or cougars.

The animal was euthanized in December due to serious health problems following a suspected vehicle collision.

“Around his death, the global outpouring of support was enormous. He was trending on Twitter. He was in Rolling Stone magazine,” National Wildlife Federation California executive director Beth Pratt, a lifelong wildlife advocate who has been a decade-long advocate for P -22, Reuters said.

“So we did this as a way for the LA community, and the world, to sort of grieve together.”

Among the crowd attending the celebration, many sporting P-22 memorabilia, Los Angeles resident Paul Aguayo recounted an encounter with the P-22 near Burbank in 2012.

“I was walking down this trail and I heard a little click, a little movement. I looked around and we looked for about two, four seconds. It turned and just came down the canyon. I saw its tail,” Aguayo told Reuters.

Mountain lions like P-22 are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and highway deaths are taking an increasing toll. Officials and advocates have called for the construction of more wildlife crossings in urban areas and well-planned spaces for them to roam.

“All over the world, people are now looking at how to coexist with their wild neighbors differently because of him,” Pratt said.

“And wildlife crossings are nothing new. But he brought calls for wildlife crossings into the public discourse in a way that it hadn’t been before. So, not bad for this cat that just wandered through Griffith Park.”

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