Thursday, March 10, 2016

P-22 Mountain Lion Suspected of Killing Koala at Los Angeles Zoo

If this story holds up, I doubt this poor koala's going to be the last animal killed at the zoo.

The mountain lion knows where to find dinner.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Griffith Park mountain lion P-22 suspected of killing koala at L.A. Zoo":
In the legal world, it’d be called circumstantial evidence.

On March 3, one of the Los Angeles Zoo’s koalas went missing. Down the road from its enclosure, a tuft of its hair was found. About 400 yards farther down, zookeepers made a grisly discovery: bloody marsupial parts.

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.

Zoo officials don’t know how the mountain lion is getting in and out of the park, but said it was spotted on cameras stationed around the zoo the night the koala was killed.

The zoo also released a black-and-white video taken by surveillance cameras place him near the scene the night before the koala was discovered missing.

“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 Times on Thursday.

About a month ago, cameras stationed around the park to record the behavior of smaller wild animals, like bobcats and coyotes, roaming the park at night showed P-22 also on the premises.

“It was kind of like ‘Whoa,’ ” Lewis said when they saw the 6-year-old puma on camera.

P-22 has been seen on camera a few other times since then, and once left the remains of a devoured raccoon in its wake. Sometime between the night of March 2 and the morning of March 3, the predator visited the koala enclosure, Lewis thinks.

That’s where it probably found Killarney, the oldest koala in the exhibit at 14 years old, on the ground, unprotected from the elevation the trees provide. Koalas live to be 12 to 15 years old, Lewis said.

“She was very individual,” Lewis said of the koala, which had no offspring and hailed from Australia. “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...

ADDED: There's a video report at ABC News 10 San Diego, "Famous mountain lion suspected in death of koala at LA Zoo."