Griffith Park mountain lion photos show he's in good health

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A mountain lion known to roam the Griffith Park area appears to be improving in health, based on newly captured photos. (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

A mountain lion known to roam the Griffith Park area appears to be improving in health, based on newly captured photos.

The lion, known to animal officials as P-22 or Puma 22, was originally captured in Griffith Park and outfitted with a GPS collar in March 2012.

When officials last captured P-22 for a routine battery change, they found signs of mange, a skin disorder often blamed on exposure to rat poison. Officials say the mange was a result of eating small animals that had ingested the toxins.

The new photos, which were taken Nov. 21 with a remotely triggered camera in Griffith Park, show P-22 in better condition. Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said P-22 no longer showed signs of mange.

"Based on the number of photos, the multiple angles and the clarity, this is the best indication we've had that P-22 appears to have recovered," Sikich said in a statement. "With these high resolution photos I can zoom in and investigate for signs of mange around the back of his ears and top of his head, which is usually where it first develops."

In the photos, P-22 is seen lounging on a mule deer carcass, according to Kate Kuykendall, spokesperson for the National Park Service. Judging on his expressions, it was a meal he was quite happy with.

"We don't know if traces of the rat poison remain in his system, and certainly, nothing in his environment has really changed so he will probably continue to be exposed to rat poison," Kuykendall said.

Although P-22 looks healthy, Sikich said it's impossible to know the animal's complete condition without re-capturing him and testing his blood.

PHOTOS: Griffith Park mountain lion in good health

In addition to P-22, there are also reports a second mountain lion may have made the extremely rare journey across the 405 Freeway.

A surveillance camera outside Christopher Stills' house in Beverly Park captured a photo of a cougar. Kuykendall says biologists have confirmed the animal is a cougar, but they can't tell if it's male or female or where it came from.

"If we were able to capture the mountain lion and do blood work, we could actually test his DNA and have a better sense, but, you know, our guess would be that the lion comes from the western side of the 405," Kuykendall said.

Scientists will be checking roughly 30 wildlife cameras in the Sepulveda Pass area to see if the new mystery cougar pops up. Until then, it looks like the public will have to settle for P-22 mugging for the Griffith Park camera. That's unless that new cat crosses another freeway to find P-22's lens.

"If this lion did somehow figure out how to cross the 405, I wouldn't put the 101 past him or her," Kuykendall said.

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