GRIFFITH PARK—A suspect has been named in the brutal mauling of a koala bear at the Los Angeles Zoo. The 14-year-old koala, Killarney, went missing from her habitat one week ago on March 3. Zoo officials said in a statement on Thursday, March 10 that portions of her body have been found.
According to the Los Angeles Times, some of Killarney’s mauled body parts were found as far as 400 feet away.
Zoo officials reported that Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 is the top suspect. The zoo is located within Griffith Park and surveillance footage identified P-22 in the area the night before Killarney went missing.
“There is no definite photo or video evidence that P-22, the mountain lion that lives in Griffith Park, was the cause of her disappearance, but the mountain lion was seen on zoo surveillance footage on grounds the night before she died,” said zoo officials.
“Her death is still being investigated, and in the meantime other precautions are being taken to protect animals at the zoo,” said Deputy Mayor for City Services, Barbara Romero in a statement.
“Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen when we have a zoo in such close proximity to one of the largest urban parks in the country,” said Romero. “The koalas have been removed from their public habitats for now and other animals are being moved to their night quarters when the zoo closes.”
The area surrounding the zoo is full of wildlife, including mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes.
Whether or not P-22 was responsible for the death of the koala, many people, including City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, believe that it is time to relocate P-22 to an environment that is more suitable for not just himself, but for the surrounding community.
“P-22 is maturing, will continue to wander, and runs the risk of a fatal freeway crossing as he searches for a mate. As much as we love P-22 at Griffith Park, we know the park is not ultimately suitable for him. We should consider resettling him in the environment he needs,” O’Farrell told the LA Times in a statement.
“The incident at the Los Angeles Zoo is incredibly unfortunate; however, relocating P-22 would not be in the best interest of protecting our wildlife species. Mountain lions are a part of the natural habitat of Griffith Park and the adjacent hillsides,” said City Councilman David Ryu in a statement.
The mountain lion will be monitored closely. Zoo officials have added more cameras around the facilities to see whether they can find how P-22 is getting into the park, according to L.A. Zoo director John Lewis.
Killarney had been at the L.A. Zoo since May 2012. Ten koalas now remain in her absence.