Mountain lion believed to be P-22 is seen roaming in Silver Lake neighborhood


It was just after midnight Saturday when Ignacio Genzon was accompanying the last of his guests out of his Silver Lake home.

While heading out to the street, Genzon said they paused in the frontyard. Out of the corner of his eye, the cinematographer spotted what he thought was “a really big dog.”

“It was walking very calmly,” Genzon recalled. When he gave a closer look, he realized he was staring at a mountain lion.

“We were shocked — it was maybe 20 feet away from us,” Genzon said. “It was walking on the sidewalk and didn’t seem to be in any kind of a hurry.”

Heading northbound on Benton Way about a half-mile below the Silver Lake Reservoir, the big cat bore a noticeable collar around its neck and is believed to be P-22, the only mountain lion known to reside in the Griffith Park area.

A 123-pound male cougar, P-22 is something of a celebrity in his own right. He shot to fame with an iconic National Geographic photo spread, after which he was featured in a 2017 documentary, “The Cat That Changed America,” a museum exhibit, a children’s coloring book, and most recently, a mural in Watts.

For years, the public has caught glimpses of the mountain lion via security cameras at homes around the Hollywood Hills. Security technicians at one Los Feliz home were stunned in 2015 when they encountered the feline holed up in a crawl space. No injuries to the public have been reported, although he is the prime suspect in the death of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Earlier this month, officials at the National Park Service, whose scientists track P-22 and other cougars in the Santa Monica Mountains, said the 12-year-old cat was seen “the furthest south he’d ever ventured since living in Griffith Park.”

The lion roamed along Silver Lake Boulevard on March 8 before making his way to Berkeley Circle — about a half-mile west of where Genzon spotted the puma early Saturday — and eventually retreating to Griffith Park.

Whatever route the lion took before passing by Genzon’s home is unclear. National Park Service officials could not be reached for comment Saturday. Tim Daly, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said his agency is notified only if there’s a public safety threat or incident. “If it’s just a sighting, we aren’t typically notified,” Daly said.

Genzon recalled feeling a “weird” sensation as he witnessed the lion mere steps from his home: “It was hard to focus — it’s an animal that can kill me — but I wasn’t afraid.”

At one point, a car in the neighborhood had started, and the motorist pulled out, then stopped.

“The mountain lion noticed the car, took a defensive crouch and then just kept moving,” Genzon said.

After heading north on Benton Way, the cat slunk up a neighbor’s driveway and vanished into some bushes, he said.

“I love that I saw it. It’s pretty amazing,” Genzon said, adding: “Now when I step outside, I’m going to look both ways.”



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