A mountain lion is currently the prime suspect in the death of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.
The 14-year-old koala named Killarney (the oldest koala at the park) was reported missing on March 3. Its remains were found some 400 yards from its residence at the zoo.
While the alleged murder wasn’t caught on camera, the lion was seen in the vicinity, making it the likely culprit in the koala’s death. It’s still unclear how the lion entered the park, according to officials.
L.A. Times reports (in a very lengthy piece on the killing):
Something must have been able to carry it that far, park employees figured. So they examined the park’s “trap cameras” — surveillance devices with motion sensors — in an effort to spot the culprit. Though the attack wasn’t recorded, they did find still photos of the likely perpetrator: P-22, Griffith Park’s famous mountain lion.
This same lion may also have mauled a raccoon in the days after allegedly killing the koala.
Here’s footage of the lion roaming the zoo grounds:
“The evidence is circumstantial. We don’t have any video of it taking the koala. We can’t say 100%,” L.A. Zoo director John Lewis told the L.A. Times, adding that the koala was “very individual” and that, “At night, for whatever reason, it was typical for her to walk around. The other koalas were up in the trees.”
There was no blood trail in the enclosure, and no fur to indicate a violent attack, he said. The koalas were kept in an open enclosure surrounded by an 8-foot high wall.
“He had to jump down into the enclosure and jump back out with the koala,” Lewis said of the predator. “It’s a pretty good feat in itself. ... It was a pretty quick snatch.”
The zoo is implementing new measures to protect the remaining 10 koalas at the zoo, as well as the other animals at night. But what about the damn mountain lion? Just gonna let him run loose?
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell says P-22 is too dangerous and prob needs to be moved to another domain.
“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,” said O’Farrell in a statement. “As much as we love P-22 at Griffith Park, we know the park is not ultimately suitable for him.”
The mountain lion is currently in L.A. somewhere with its head in its paws, (allegedly) wondering if it’s making the right life decisions.
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Image via National Park Service