LOS ANGELES -- A koala at the Los Angeles Zoo was found mauled to death, and the killer is believed to be P-22, a mountain lion that has made Griffith Park his home.
Zoo workers found the koala's body outside its pen Thursday March 3, according to John Lewis, the zoo's director. A month before, zoo workers were reviewing surveillance footage that monitors outside wildlife, and were surprised at what they saw.
"We were actually looking for bobcats, and what we found on that night was P-22," Lewis said. "That was the first time we knew he was getting into the zoo."
After reviewing the footage the night that the koala was killed, they saw P-22.
"We don't know how he's getting in or how he's getting out, but he was also seen the night the koala disappeared," Lewis said. He said P-22 has not killed zoo animals before, but is believed to have been eating raccoons that get inside the zoo.
Zoo workers were taking extra precautions after the incident, like locking up smaller animals in their barns at night.
"The koalas are all off exhibit. They're in a safe place," Lewis said.
P-22 is a 7-year-old, 130-pound mountain lion that has become something of a mascot at Griffith Park. He is believed to have been born in the Santa Monica Mountains and to have trekked across the 405 and 101 Freeways to the Griffith Park wilderness.
"Regardless of what predator killed the koala, this tragedy just emphasizes the need to contemplate relocating P-22 to a safer, more remote wild area where he has adequate space to roam without the possibility of human interaction," City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said in a written statement.
"P-22 is maturing, will continue to wander and runs the risk of a fatal freeway crossing as he searches for a mate," O'Farrell continued. "As much as we love P-22 at Griffith Park, we know the park is not ultimately suitable for him. We should consider resettling him in the environment he needs."
But Lewis disagreed.
"There's a lot of native wildlife in this area. This is their home," he said. "So we'll learn to adapt to P-22 just like he's learned to adapt to us."