The legacy of Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion continues Sunday at Griffith Park with the eighth annual P-22 Day.
Wildlife supporters will unite at Shane’s Inspiration playground from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to enjoy live music, food trucks, muralists and native-plant giveaways.
Organized by the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign, the free, family-friendly festival hopes to honor the famed mountain lion who amassed a celebrity-worthy following and kick-started campaigns to save wildlife throughout Southern California.
Beth Pratt, a regional executive director in California for the National Wildlife Federation, has celebrated the renowned puma at the park since 2016.
At the start of Sunday’s festivities, she took to the hills where P-22 once roamed.
Pratt recalled more than 13,000 people attending last year’s celebration for L.A.’s most famous cat. But this is the first time P-22 Day has been held since the cougar’s death, so this year’s crowd might be the biggest yet.
“The loss is still really raw for a lot of people,” Pratt said. “During the other seven [festivals] he was here snapping and listening to the music we were playing.”
Not literally, joked Pratt, who sports a tattoo of the cougar’s face on her arm.
But wildlife supporters could bank on the big cat coming down from the mountaintop to amaze onlookers who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him over the years.
P-22 first captured the world’s attention in 2012, when a motion-sensing camera caught an image of his hindquarters and tail in Griffith Park.
He survived a parasitic infection and a cramped range in Griffith Park, but officials with the National Park Service and the state’s wildlife department captured P-22 after he started to show increasing “signs of distress,” including three attacks on dogs in a month and several near-miss encounters with people walking in Los Feliz and Silver Lake.
Thought to be about 12 years old at the time of his death, the mountain lion was “compassionately euthanized” in December 2022. He was suffering from a number of health issues at the time as well as from internal injuries that officials believed occurred after he was hit by a car.
The cougar’s popularity only grew through the years after his picture was first seen in The Times and in other news coverage over the years.
By order of the Los Angeles City Council, every Oct. 22 is celebrated as “P-22 Day.”
The sad plight of P-22 — isolated by freeways in the relatively cramped greenery of Griffith Park — motivated state officials who wanted to help prevent other creatures from suffering a similar fate to take action.
The result is the world’s largest wildlife overpass, under construction over the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills.
Pratt remembers raising millions to construct the crossing, which is expected to provide safe passage for mountain lions and other wildlife after completion in 2025.
But Pratt reminds the public there’s more to be done as officials ready for the next phase of a fundraising campaign.
Pratt hopes P-22’s legacy is the link that connects Southern California to all wildlife.
“We want to do more,” she said.
Thankfully, Pratt finds partners in nearly 70 other organizations planning to educate the public on P-22 Day.
“That is P-22’s legacy,” Pratt exclaimed, “showing people in a real way — off the scientific paper — how they can make a difference in the lives of amazing predators.”
There are plenty more events planned throughout Los Angeles during Urban Wildlife Week, but the hike retracing P-22’s journey is among the toughest, according to Pratt.
“The whole reason they do it is to show how hard it is for a person to do it, much less a mountain lion,” Pratt explained.
“It goes to show,” she said, “there’s a lot more we can do to make it a little easier for them.”