The Los Feliz couple encounter a mountain lion believed to be P-22

Los Feliz residents Cylin Busby and Damon Ross were on their way home Saturday night after watching the horror movie “Barbarian,” in which a young woman walks into a rental house and is startled to discover an unexpected guest.

As they drove up to their house near Griffith Park, the couple spotted the silhouette of a large and imposing figure in their driveway. They had seen coyotes and raccoons in the neighborhood before, but nothing like this.

“Coming off this movie, we were especially on edge,” said Ross, a 50-year-old producer at DreamWorks Animation.

It turned out to be what they believe to be the mountain lion known as P-22, plopping in front of their house, just a few feet from the car. The cougar has long lived in the Griffith Park area.

P-22 surprised the world when he first appeared a decade ago in the park, which scientists had deemed too urban and too small to support mountain lions. Scientists assumed he would eventually leave the park, but he has stayed, eating mule deer and raccoons and occasionally appearing on surveillance cameras, creating a media frenzy.

On this occasion the animal appeared to be calm and comfortable in its surroundings.

“He was lying down like he was about to take a nap,” said Busby, a 52-year-old screenwriter and author of several books, including one loosely based on Franny, a cat that lives in Los Feliz’s Skylight Books.

As the pair locked eyes with the mountain lion, Ross reached for his cell phone to take a photo.

“We were way more anxious than he was,” Ross said.

At first, the couple wasn’t sure what to do. Should they call the police? What if the mountain lion jumped on the car?

“I googled, who should I call?” said Busby, who has lived in the area for 12 years but had never seen a mountain lion before. “I wasn’t going to roll down a window, and I don’t want to disturb him, but we’re going to have to get into our house eventually, too.”

Ana Beatriz Cholo, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains area, said she has not confirmed whether the mountain lion was P-22.

“But there are no other mountain lions living in Griffith Park or in that area,” she said, adding that it is not unusual for P-22 to venture outside the park.

Ever since National Geographic published a photo of the P-22 roaming the hills below the Hollywood sign in 2013, he’s been a celebrity. In addition to his glossy publication in the magazine, he is the subject of a documentary and a Natural History Museum exhibition. By order of the City Council, October 22nd in Los Angeles is “P-22 Day.”

Despite their fearsome presence, mountain lions rarely attack humans, said Tiffany Yap, a senior researcher at the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. It seems the animals are the ones to fear more in an urban environment, as more than 100 are killed on the roads each year in California, Yap said.

“This is a great example of why we need to think about how we can safely coexist with the wildlife around us,” Yap said of the pair’s sighting, adding that Ross and Busby did a great job staying in their car and wait on the mountain. lion to leave.

Three or four minutes after he was discovered, the mountain lion leapt toward the olive trees on the hillside next to the couple’s home. He disappeared, appeared on a neighbor’s security camera 90 minutes later, then disappeared again.

“It was a close-up of a real natural beauty,” Busby said. “He was a really beautiful cat.”

The couple has a rescue cat, Billie Jean, who “isn’t terribly thrilled that all the attention isn’t on her,” Ross said.

He’s worked with Sam Rockwell and Jack Black, but Saturday marked “the best celebrity sighting we’ve ever seen.”

Still, Busby saw a bit of sadness in the cougar’s eyes.

“The story that resonates most with people, if I can speak for my husband and I, is that he’s alone over here. He has no name. He has no companions,” she said. “You can’t help it to feel a little sorry for him.”

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