SANTA MONICA—P-22, the mountain lion who roamed Griffith Park for nearly a decade, was laid to rest in the Santa Monica Mountains on Saturday, March 4, in a private ceremony surrounded by tribal leaders, scientists, and conservation advocates.

During the ceremony, tribal leaders from the Chumash, Tataviam and Gabrielino (Tongva) peoples performed traditional songs and made offerings to the puma. Mountain lions are regarded as relatives and considered teachers in Los Angeles’s tribal communities. Attendants formed a circle and anyone regardless if they were native or not were allowed to say a few words or a prayer for P-22.  

P-22’s burial site was not disclosed to the public out of concerns from the Native community who stated people might not be respectful of the gravesite if they knew where the mountain lion was buried. According to reports, P-22 is most likely buried in the area he was born. He was buried in a shroud to protect the burial site.

This burial marks the end of a months-long discussion on how to handle P-22’s remains which was seen as critical to scientific research but sacred to local tribes. Many indigenous people felt that keeping any portion of the animal’s remains would be disrespectful.

Before leaders made a decision on where P-22 would be buried, his remains were kept at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in a freezer. A woodworker at the museum was asked to build a casket for P-22. The woodworker made a biodegradable casket made of untreated pine and coated with orange oil and beeswax. Local tribes requested the casket be kept at the museum for any future repatriation of other animals. 

A public memorial was held at the Greek Theater in Hollywood last month for P-22 which lasted more than three hours. The event included four dozen tributes and speeches. 

P-22 was likely hit by a car in Los Feliz sometime in 2022 wildlife experts stated. A medical examination revealed that he sustained a skull fracture from the incident and was experiencing severe chronic health issues due to his age. Wildlife officials decided to euthanize P-22 in December 2022 and believe he was about 12 years old when he passed. 

Scientists believe that P-22 was born in the Western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains and left the location because of his father’s aggression and his own determination to mate. The mountain lion impressed many locals when he was discovered in Los Feliz in 2012, making an improbable journey to reach Griffith Park, through the Hollywood Hills and across the 405 and 101 freeways.

His journey over the freeways inspired a wildlife crossing over the freeways that will allow large cats and other animals a safe passage between the mountains and wild lands to the north.