LOS ANGELES — Leilani Fideler received an alert that her backyard motion sensor had detected some raccoons.
Soon, her phone pinged again. This time, it wasn’t a raccoon.
“I was shocked to see a lion’s tail,” Fideler said. “I saw him jump over my gate. It was just wild.”
P-22, Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion, made a brief appearance on the deck of Fideler’s Griffith Park neighborhood home. She wasn’t home during the 12-year-old lion’s visit last week.
Researchers who have been following P-22 since he made his first appearance in Griffith Park 10 years ago are positive he’s the lion in the video, thanks to the tracking collar visible on his neck.
P-22 once hid out under a Los Feliz house and is suspected of killing a koala at the city zoo.
Researchers believe the cat is originally from the Santa Monica Mountains.
The route to Griffith Park means he embarked on a journey most Angelenos undertake to get across town — crossing the 405 and 101 freeways.
His tawny good looks have attracted many fans. In an iconic 2013 image, photographer Steve Winter captured him prowling at night with the Hollywood sign gleaming in the background.
But he has no admirers of his own species. Hemmed in by freeways, he is believed to be the only mountain lion in the area, with no females to take as a mate.
“He’s the Brad Pitt of the cougar world. He’s handsome, has aged well, but has struggles with his dating life,” said Beth Pratt, who heads the nonprofit National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign.
Despite his GPS collar and proximity to densely populated neighborhoods, researchers have a hard time keeping track of his movements.
“The vast majority of the time, we don’t know where this animal is,” said Seth Riley, wildlife branch chief with the National Park Service.
But with the popularity of home security cameras like Ring, images of him on front porches and in backyards are increasingly common.
“That doesn’t mean that the lions are suddenly now coming to everyone’s back doors,” Riley said. “It just means that everyone has photos of it now.”
Pratt’s group is raising funds for an $87-million overpass that will allow isolated cougars to cross a 10-lane stretch of the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills.
“It’s not that he shouldn’t be in Griffith Park, but he shouldn’t be trapped there. He should be able to travel in and out of it,” Pratt said.
The fanfare that follows P-22 sightings is to be expected, Pratt said. Angelenos have embraced the big feline in their midst.
“I really love to celebrate the people of L.A., because in any other state, this cat would have been removed or killed immediately upon detection,” Pratt said. “Here we are, living with him and celebrating him.”