A Los Angeles Zoo koala in the wrong place at the wrong time. A mountain lion with a known history of entering the zoo at night. These are the characters in an LA noir tale that's playing out at the zoo in Griffith Park after a koala was found "mauled to death" on March 3, reports City News Service. The "prime suspect" is Griffith Park's most famous predator, the P-22 mountain lion, says the zoo's director.
Last month, video footage revealed that P-22 was sneaking into the zoo at night—something that no one had known he was doing. Even more damning: "he was also seen the night the koala disappeared," the zoo's director says. Of course, as the LA Times notes, "in the legal world, [this would all] be called circumstantial evidence."
"We don’t know how he’s getting in or how he’s getting out," says the director, but since the koala's murder, zoo workers have taken extra safety precautions for the animals, locking them up in special enclosures at night. The koalas are off public display entirely.
This behavior isn't out of character for a mountain lion. A National Park Service official told NBC4 (via LAT) that "This wouldn’t be an example of him behaving aggressively or abnormally. Whether it’s exotic pets or exotic animals," like a koala, which isn't even supposed to be here in LA, "or our own domestic pets, we need to make sure they’re in safe enclosures or brought in at night."
Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell spoke out after the killing, stating that he believes this is evidence that P-22 should be relocated to "a safer, more remote wild area." But the zoo's director feels otherwise. "There’s a lot of native wildlife in this area. This is their home. So we’ll learn to adapt to P-22 just like he’s learned to adapt to us."
Just a few years ago, P-22 was in a bad place, suffering what was thought to be the effects of rat poison and a serious case of mange. He's since recovered, though city life is rough for a mountain lion. P-22's Twitter feed tweeted a confession and a fairly positive review of the koala.
I ATE A KOALA— P22 (@GPMountainLion) March 10, 2016
my review of Koala: buttery, rich and comforting, although a touch unimaginative ★★★☆☆— P22 (@GPMountainLion) March 10, 2016
reggie the alligator got me a great table at baco meerkat— P22 (@GPMountainLion) March 10, 2016
- L.A. Zoo koala bear is dead, and mountain lion P-22 is prime suspect [CNS]
- Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 suspected of killing koala at L.A. Zoo [LAT]
- Meet the Murderous, Inbred Mountain Lion Family of the Santa Monica Mountains [Curbed LA]
- Video: Inside the Hard Lives of Los Angeles Mountain Lions [Curbed LA]