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Steve Winter is famous for his photographs of big cats in their natural habitats, such as snow leopards and tigers, among others. Winter’s task was to illustrate cougars—also known as mountain lions—in an urban environment.
Winter then faced the challenge of setting up—and securing—camera traps that he would use in this attempt. After Griffith’s parkland gift, it took another 80 years of concerted effort by many dedicated people to create the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. P-22’s story is so engaging that I wrote a theme song for him and the real life reality TV show that is his life.
Some years ago one cougar was corned in downtown Victoria BC Canada, in the underground parkade for The Empress Hotel which is right near the legislature.
A four second exposure at high ISO will expose the hill and sign sufficiently to make it appear the sign is lit up. I had an encounter with a likely cousin of P22 just above the Palisades Highlands community near the juncture to Skull Rock on Santa Ynez trail. Fifty years ago seeing a lion in the park was not common but not so rare people made a big fuss. Having grown up in the Griffith Park area I am not at all surprised at what lives in the more inaccessible areas of the Park. Now that I have lived in a more rural part of California I have learned in the wild if there is food, Deer, there is something to eat the food, Mountain Lions. One of these magnificent cats crossed right in front of my car as I was driving up the Oregon coast on highway 1 in august.
The collar seems ridiculously large, which in turn means, I would guess, annoying and irritating to the cat? Mountain lions are surprisingly good at surviving on the urban edge, moving around mostly unnoticed and staying out of trouble. As a Friend of Griffith Park I am happy to see the efforts of those that care about the park and its inhabitants, both human and wildlife, getting well deserved kudos. The Hollywood sign is not lit at night, so shouldn’t that manipulation of the image be mentioned? But, the really important part was not in your story… it was local biologists who first discovered the existence of this animal in this Park, and they in turn alerted the NPS who tagged the cat.


You know the thing that makes it look crazy, you guys went back to get shadows around the cat’s neck. His “Ghost Cats” story in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic opens with a surprising image of a big cat, not in the wilds of India, but in a location arguably as challenging for photographing his subject—downtown Los Angeles. His research led him to biologist Jeff Sikich, whose work with a mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on the outskirts of L.A. So elusive that few people ever see them, many of the animals being tracked by Sikich would leave the Santa Monica Recreation Area only to turn around and go back. Despite being heavily chained and locked, three out of the four cameras he set up were stolen. He is partnering with the Annenberg Foundation later this year for a fundraiser to help build a wildlife tunnel across the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.
State and Federal agencies now preserve and protect natural values in larger and more contiguous areas of open space to the west where P-22 was born and to which he may someday return.
I, for one, feel some civic pride about the fact that LA has viable habitat for something as big and wild as a puma so close to downtown.
Look at the muscles flexing all the way thru toward the spine just from him picking up his R.
I need to ask how to know about behavior and how to make these animals, specially cats user friendly. Its unearthly to see something so majestic adapt to the craziness we have created around it. Them and the coyotes are coming down into Burbank and eating peoples pets even though there are a ton of deer in the hills. The light on the Hollywood sign is the result of a four-second exposure and fog reflecting the lights of the city.
I have photographed the sign many many times with 1 to 3 minutes exposure and could not get it lit the way it is the photo with the lion! My husband and I grew up in Hollywood and find it so fascinating to see it with our own eyes. In fact, the first collar stopped working, so P22 was recaptured, retagged and re-released. He had worked with big cats for many years and knew the importance of connecting these cats to something immediately recognizable.


And even if they did make the trek, they would risk being struck by cars crossing two busy freeways in between, the 405 and the 101. I’m a resident in these hills and have seen evidence of our resident puma on the hiking trails but have never sighted her.
The lion did move during the exposure but this was not captured by the camera because it was completely dark except when the strobe flashed.
Two does crossed in front of us and 5-minutes later these enormous cat comes loping across the 1. Having heard through the grapevine that a cougar was once spotted in Cher’s backyard, he quizzed Sikich about the particulars of the mountain lion population’s comings and goings.
This great city has a history of people who cared enough about open space preservation to set aside and protect some great big natural areas as parks for all to use. I’m wondering if it’s possible to get photographs of her with the Griffith Park Observatory or one of the jetliner views of the city from the Griffith Park hillside? Out of the calmness, this magnificent creature came walking out of a side trail about 20 feet in front of me.
I wonder if the golfers know that when they’re chasing their ball in the rough, these cats are sizing them up! Griffith gave the park that bears his name to the people of LA as a Christmas present in 1898 in order to make the city in which he had prospered a happier, cleaner, better place. I mean seriously, I would have given up on the project just because I couldn’t find that one cougar. The reason why P-22 is so unusual is that Griffith Park is in yher middle of LA, completely surrounded by miles and miles of very urban land use.
Many others have died on the freeways and streets of LA as they tried to disperse and find a place of their own. There is coyotes foxes and Deer running the hills of Whittier why is it so hard for people to believe the cat is in the Griffith Park area.




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