The guest of honor was nowhere to be seen but his presence was everywhere. P-22 did his usual cat thing – he hunkered down in some quiet, cool hidden spot far away from people. But at Park Center his image was everywhere on Sunday, October 22. It was the second annual event to honor the park’s celebrity mountain lion and focus attention on the hazards faced by all our wildlife.
The festivities were led by California Director of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Beth Pratt-Bergstrom. Over a four-day period Pratt and various groups of hikers replicated P-22’s amazing journey from west of the 405 into Griffith Park. On the last leg of the hike from Cahuenga Pass into Griffith Park she was joined by FoGP’s Gerry Hans, Mary Button, and Miguel Ordeñana. School children and L.A. Councilmember Paul Koretz joined them for the final push where they were welcomed by a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters. More than 75 non-profits and agencies had booths promoting their efforts to maintain and expand open space and wildlife connectivity.
The MC for the day was TV host of SoCal Connected, Cara Santa Maria.
Councilmember Ryu (CD 4) read the proclamation designating October 22 as P-22 Day. Councilmember Ryu then declared his support for open space, habitat connectivity, and open access to parks to rounds of applause from a wildly enthusiastic audience. Ryu and Koretz were later joined onstage by Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (AD 43), Richard Bloom (AD 50), State Senator Anthony Portantino (SD 25), and Deputy Mayor Barbara Romero.
The NWF has assumed the challenge for raising the money needed to build the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon. Pratt proudly announced major donations from the Annenberg Foundation and from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Boeing presented its check at the event.
Councilmember Koretz promoted Laurel Canyon and Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife’s (CLAW) Let’s Buy a Mountain project which is nearing its goal to purchase open space. When the fundraising effort launched, Councilmember Ryu pledged matching funds. Koretz’s support was matched by Senator Anthony Portantino. Thank you all for your support of open space!
Councilmember Koretz presented biologist Miguel Ordeñana with a city proclamation for discovering P-22’s presence in the park. The Griffith Park Connectivity Study was a collaboration between Cooper Ecological Monitoring (CEM) and US Geological Survey (USGS), initiated and funded by Friends of Griffith Park in 2011. FoGP board member Ordeñana was working with Erin Boydston of USGS and Dan Cooper in 2012 when he was surprised by the mountain lion’s image in camera trap photos. When he realized it was a mountain lion, he immediately notified Dan and Erin who reached out to the mountain lion experts at National Park Service. Soon after, NPS’s Jeff Sikich notified National Geographic wildlife photographer Steve Winter of a mountain lion residing in Griffith Park. Winter set up more sophisticated cameras which eventually led to P-22’s most iconic shot with the Hollywood Sign in the background. A star was born.
One of the most popular booths was Narrated Objects that created a We ♥︎ P-22 coloring book so children can learn about mountain lions. The 138-page book features original drawings by a variety of local artists, as well as puzzles and games.
Entertainment for the day included the Ballad of P-22, seeing an awesome red-tailed hawk, dancing, and live music from Quetzal. Those who couldn’t hunker down in the shade like P-22 sought relief from the heat with snow cones.