Future of P-22's remains uncertain after dispute over museum display

Some people in the Native American community want P-22 to be buried near Griffith Park, not displayed at a museum.

Jaysha Patel Image
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Future of P-22's remains remains uncertain
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Some people in the Native American community want P-22 to be buried near Griffith Park, not displayed at a museum.

EXPOSITION PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- P-22 is Los Angeles's famed mountain lion who made Griffith Park his home.

He was captured after a series of attacks on pets and eventually euthanized.

According wildlife officials, P-22 had several severe injuries and chronic health problems.

After his death, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife sent his remains to the Natural History Museum in L.A.

Indigenous community members joined museum officials to perform a blessing ceremony when his remains were taken in San Diego and when they arrived to the museum.

There were discussions to taxidermy P-22's body, or put his remains on display at the museum, but many in the Native American community want P-22 buried near Griffith Park with a ceremony.

"There's a deep respect, almost a family connection with all of creation, all of wildlife, and wildlife is considered our brother, our sister, our family and it's something we respect," said Jerry Nieblas, a Native American in the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians Acjachemen Nation.

READ MORE | Native tribes call for famed mountain lion P-22 to be buried with ceremony near Griffith Park

Nieblas is a community activist for the Native American community in San Juan Capistrano.

He believes P-22 should not be on display in a museum.

The museum currently has the mountain lions remains, but does not plan to put him on display. "We want to make sure that we let them know that they've been heard, and we want to make sure whatever the next steps are outside of taxidermy, that those opinions are heard as well," said Miguel Ordeñana, senior manager of community science at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Eyewitness news reached out to CDFW to find out whether the Native American community was consulted before the remains were given to the museum.

Jordan Traverso with the agency issued the following response:

"The Natural History Museum was issued a permit on Dec. 6, 2021. I am not aware of any consultation or consultation request with the tribal community on this issue. I acknowledge and accept we may have overlooked this important step. Once we captured P-22, we were laser focused on decisions related to the health of the animal. It took all of our energy and effort to work through those decisions. We are pleased the museum has agreed to take a step back and be a custodian of the remains until this can be further discussed with the tribes."

As of Wednesday, there's no timeline as to when a decision will be made about P-22's remains.

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