"The cougar has left the building," the California Department of Fish and Wildlife tweeted.
P-22 lives in Griffith Park, where he struts around with the Hollywood sign in the backdrop. On Monday, workers discovered the cat hiding in the crawl space while installing a security system on a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood.
“I didn't think for two seconds that it was a mountain lion in my house,” Jason Archinaco told the Los Angeles Times. “If someone says Bigfoot's in your house, you go, 'Yeah,' and you stick your head in there.”
Bad idea, Jason. The worker who first saw the cat turned as white as a ghost and scrammed "like a bat out of hell," Armando Navarrete of the Los Angeles Animal Service told the Times.
Navarrete, who first arrived on the scene, thought the animal was a bobcat and crawled under the house to see.
He got within 10 feet of the mountain lion.
So in came the cavalry, including California Department of Fish and Wildlife workers, hordes of reporters and even helicopters buzzing above. Workers tried shooing P-22 away with tennis balls and non-lethal bean bag rounds, CDFW spokeswoman Janice Mackey told The Washington Post.
"It didn't really faze him. He's a big tough cat," Mackey said. "He's a lion, and he's on the top of the food chain over here."
They eventually called off the effort around 12:30 a.m., in order to give the cat the space to leave on his own terms.
Workers with CDFW, the National Park Service and others checked again Tuesday morning, and discovered P-22 left. They used a telemetry wand to ping the mountain lion's tracking collar.
Researchers have been tracking the mountain lion that they previously caught, collared, named and released. They believe he came from the Santa Monica mountains, somehow crossed the 101 and 405 freeways and entered Griffith Park in February 2012, where he's become one of the most urban mountain lions in the world.
In 2013, National Geographic's Steve Winter captured stunning images of P-22, with the Hollywood sign in the backdrop. He said the assignment was "extremely difficult."
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P-22 is in a crawl space under a home in Los Feliz - I hope he makes it out of there and back into the park safely! GO P-22!!! This is an image from my @natgeo magazine story on Cougars from Dec. 2013. Cougar P-22 stopping on the trail in Griffith Park, with LA as its background. @stevewinterphoto P-22 was trying to disperse and find his own home - He left Santa Monica National Recreation Area and ended up in Griffith Park. Jeff Sikich from the National Park Service has been monitoring him for the last 3 years. To find out more about the animals in the Santa Monica National Recreation Area - the largest urban park in the US - and wildlife overpass project - planned over the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon - check out the Samo Fund. The animals - specifically the cougars of the area need the overpass - as genetically they are in the same situation the florida panther was when they brought in some new genes a few years ago from mt. lions from the south. www.samofund.org #SamoFund. #SaveLACougars #NBCLA @latimes #bigcatsforever @natgeo http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-famed-p22-mountain-lion-found-under-los-feliz-home-owner-says-20150413-story.html Please visit National Geographic Magazine @natgeo - ngm.com and National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative @ CauseAnUproar.org, to find out ways to become involved - to save big cats! @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #beauty #la #me # photofotheday #cougar #canon #photography #conservationphotography #porlaplaneta @natgeo #bigcatsforever
"The mountain lion is a very secretive animal," Winters told National Geographic. "It has to be in order to show up in downtown L.A. and have no one ever see it but the scientists, and so it was a great relief when you have a picture like this that can become iconic."
By Tuesday afternoon, P-22 had made his way back to his stomping grounds in Griffith Park, his tracking collar indicated. "He's back where he should be, safe and sound," CDFW tweeted.
[This post has been updated.]
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