Australian marsupial named Killarney found mauled to death outside pen at Los Angeles Zoo, with infamous wild cat known as P-22 thought responsible
A mountain lion known as P-22 that gained fame after being photographed striding past the landmark Hollywood sign is suspected of mauling to death a 14-year-old koala at the Los Angeles Zoo
Zoo surveillance cameras showed P-22 prowling around the zoo the night of the Australian marsupials violent death, zoo director John Lewis told a news conference.
Unfortunately these types of incidents happen when we have a zoo in such close proximity to one of the largest urban parks in the country, lamented the Los Angeles deputy mayor, Barbara Romero.
Zoo cameras did not capture P-22 in the act but officials said there was ample evidence to support their belief that the cougar found his way into the marsupial enclosure before making off with the koala, named Killarney.
P-22 appeared to have jumped an eight-foot wall protecting the koalas before making off with Killarney, who weighed at least 15lb (6.8kg), Lewis said. Remains were found a short distance away. Only a large predator could manage that, he said.
Killarney may have been especially vulnerable to attack because she had a habit of spending time on the ground after dark while most of the other koalas stayed in the trees.
Zoo officials said they had temporarily moved the remaining 10 koalas indoors around the clock, with most of the other zoo animals moving inside every night.
P-22s name was given by biologists studying mountain lions in Southern California. It combines the first letter of puma with the number that indicates he was the 22nd large cat tagged for the study.
He lives in 4,000-acre (1,619ha) Griffith Park, which includes both wild sections and the zoo, and had been on zoo grounds before without bothering any of the animals or being a nuisance, Lewis said.
In 2015 P-22 touched off a media frenzy after he was discovered hiding in the crawl space under a Los Angeles house. He stole away undetected in the dead of night.