P-22 gained LA fame thanks to biologist who discovered him

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Wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeñana was shocked when he first caught P-22 roaming Griffith Park on camera. Photo courtesy of Miguel Ordeñana.

LA’s favorite mountain lion, P-22, lives mostly in Griffith Park. The famous big cat has been a star in LA for roughly the past decade. In February 2012, wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeñana spotted the puma roaming the Los Feliz-based park spanning more than 4,000 acres. That discovery — enabled by motion-activated wildlife cameras — changed Ordeñana’s life and LA. 

The biologist says the footage was like seeing Bigfoot. It stunned him and other Angelenos, given how far the cougar would’ve had to travel to reach Griffith Park. 

“We just didn't know how it [P-22] got there, how long they would stay, how people would respond. All these questions just started flooding through my mind, and I couldn't wait to share this with the world,” says Ordeñana.

Wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeñana discovered P-22 in February 2012. Photo by Miguel Ordeñana.

Journalist Ruxandra Guidi recently profiled Ordeñana and his major discovery in High Country News. She says the National Park Service (NPS) has been studying mountain lions for the past two decades. Now, there are over 100 cougars in Southern California that are being tracked and studied by the NPS.  

“For us Angelenos, for anyone who follows the story of P-22, we identify, we focus with this one male mountain lion. But there's so many others like him, who are living amongst us and who need to have the right to this territory, to this land, to this landscape,” she says. 

Motion-activated wildlife cameras were placed all around Griffith Park to capture the animals. Photo by Miguel Ordeñana.

Through the Griffith Park connectivity study, motion-activated cameras were placed all over Griffith Park to capture animals there. Photo by Miguel Ordeñana.



  • Miguel Ordeñana - Senior Manager of Community Science at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Ruxandra Guidi - multimedia journalist and contributor to High Country News