Famous L.A. Mountain Lion P-22 Euthanized After Sustaining Injuries and Chronic Health Issues

"His incredible journey helped inspire a new era of urban conservation, including the world's largest wildlife crossing in CA," Gov. Gavin Newsom said

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock (13671896a) Provided by the U.S. National Park Service shows a mountain lion known as P-22, photographed in the Griffith Park area near downtown Los Angeles. P-22, the celebrated mountain lion that took up residence in the middle of Los Angeles and became a symbol of urban pressures on wildlife, was euthanized after dangerous changes in his behavior led to examinations that revealed poor health and an injury likely caused by a car California Famed Mountain Lion, Los Angeles, United States - 09 Aug 2019
Photo: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

The famous Griffith Park mountain lion P-22, nicknamed the "Hollywood Cat" and known for crossing two major Los Angeles freeways, has died at the age of 12.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced its decision to euthanize the famous lion days after a medical examination revealed P-22 had been suffering from severe injuries and chronic health problems.

The wildlife organization said screenings showed that the lion had undergone "significant trauma" to his head, right eye and internal organs — suggesting he may have been hit by a car. Along with the injuries, veterinarians also found that P-22 had kidney disease, chronic weight loss, arthritis and an "extensive parasitic skin infection over his entire body."

"P-22's advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life-shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome," the CDFW said in a press release.

Following the news, California Gov. Gavin Newsom honored the Hollywood Cat with a sweet tribute on Twitter hailing him as an "icon."

"His incredible journey helped inspire a new era of urban conservation, including the world's largest wildlife crossing in CA," Newsom said. "I grew up loving these cats. Thinking of my dad today who was a wildlife activist [and] taught me about protecting these precious animals."

The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles also penned its own statement, saying they were "deeply saddened" by P-22's death.

"While our hearts are broken, we will continue to share his story and honor his legacy as L.A.'s ambassador for urban wildlife conservation," the museum said.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock (13658430a) Provided by the National Park Service shows a newly released image of the Griffith Park mountain lion known as P-22. The mountain lion that's a local celebrity has moved in under a Los Angeles home, and despite wildlife workers using a prod and firing tennis balls and bean bags at it, it appears unwilling to move. The animal, which has a red ear tag, is known as P-22 and normally lives in nearby Griffith Park. P-22 arrived in the area several years ago from the Santa Monica Mountains and crossed two freeways to get there. P-22, will be captured and given a health examination after he killed a dog that was being walked in the Hollywood Hills. The state Department of Fish and Game says P-22's behavior has changed and he "may be exhibiting signs of distress California Famed Mountain Lion, Los Angeles, United States - 14 Apr 2015

The outcome was hinted at after P-22 was initially captured on Monday. In a press conference, National Park Service and CDFW officials said that P-22 had exhibited signs of deteriorating health and may never return to the wild again. Officials said at the time that additional testing would decide whether to bring him to an animal sanctuary or euthanize him.

"Everybody understands ... the importance of this animal to the community and to California," CDFW Deputy Communications Director Jordan Traverso said. "And so if that kind of decision has to be made, I just want everybody to understand that it's not something that's taken lightly. It's very deeply thought about. And if something like that does happen, we recognize the sadness of it."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

The CDFW announced plans to capture P-22 on Dec. 8 after they noticed behavioral changes in the mountain lion, including reports that the animal was increasingly being spotted close to populated cities near its home.

Multiple incidents were reported, where P-22 attacked a dog and its owner that had been out for a walk. In one instance, P-22 killed a chihuahua that was being walked.

P-22 made Griffith Park his home in 2012, after leaving the Santa Monica Mountains and crossing over two freeways. Since then, multiple articles have been written about him both in Los Angeles and nationally. He was even captured on camera by a National Geographic photographer in a now-famous shot in front of the Hollywood sign.

Related Articles