P-22, the mountain lion who prowled Griffith Park for greater than a decade, was buried Saturday in an intimate tribal ceremony within the Santa Monica Mountains.
Members of 4 native tribes led the ceremony to honor the beloved puma, a logo of the wilderness nonetheless current in Southern California. A small group of officers from organizations that had studied and championed P-22, together with the Nationwide Park Service and the Nationwide Wildlife Federation, additionally attended.
P-22 was buried the place he more than likely was born and the place different mountain lions nonetheless roam. The sacred ceremony was not open to the general public and was not recorded. To guard P-22’s stays, the situation of the grave is not going to be disclosed.
“We had one easy aim: To try to be as respectful as potential to such an impressive animal,” stated Alan Salazar, a tribal elder with the Fernandeño Tataviam and Ventureño Chumash tribes. “He was a frontrunner. He was a chief.”
In probably the most highly effective moments of the ceremony, a red-tailed hawk wheeled overhead and referred to as out a number of occasions, attendees stated.
Through the ceremony, tribal members carried out conventional songs and made choices, Salazar stated. Attendees additionally shaped a circle, and anybody “who wished to supply a prayer, or simply say a couple of phrases, specific their emotions, everybody was allowed to do this — Native, non-Native.”
“It was a wonderful, pure setting,” stated Beth Pratt, a regional government director in California for the Nationwide Wildlife Federation. “Figuring out the great thing about the place he’s laid to relaxation, it offers me some consolation.”
The personal burial, Pratt stated, was a stark distinction to the public memorial for P-22 on the Greek Theatre final month. That occasion lasted greater than three hours and featured 4 dozen tributes, together with songs and speeches, to the puma generally referred to as the “King of Griffith Park.”
P-22 was euthanized in December after a sequence of well being exams revealed he was affected by a number of persistent circumstances and had sustained a cranium fracture from being hit by a automotive in Los Feliz. He was considered about 12 years outdated.
The mountain lion stunned the world when he appeared in Los Feliz in 2012. As a result of he’s believed to have been born within the Santa Monica Mountains, he made an inconceivable journey to achieve Griffith Park, via the Hollywood Hills and throughout the 405 and 101 freeways.
Saturday’s burial additionally marked the tip of months of debate about methods to deal with the stays of an animal seen as essential to scientific analysis but in addition sacred to native tribes that see mountain lions as lecturers and family members.
Earlier than P-22’s demise, the Los Angeles County Pure Historical past Museum secured a allow from the California Division of Fish and Wildlife to maintain the mountain lion’s stays for scientific analysis. That alone was a departure from custom; sometimes, the our bodies of untamed animals are discarded.
After tribal communities raised considerations concerning the plans for P-22’s physique, the museum convened a panel with representatives from a number of tribes — together with the Gabrielino-Shoshone Nation and the Gabrieleño/Tongva San Gabriel, Fernandeño Tataviam and Barbareño/Ventureño Bands of Mission Indians — to hammer out a brand new plan with the NPS and the fish and wildlife division.
“There’s not a authorities company on the market that I belief,” Salazar stated. “For us to take a seat down on the desk, have a cup of tea, break bread, after which make some vital choices which might be going to set precedent — it was very refreshing to see. It offers me hope.”
Salazar stated the group was “democracy at its purest. We’d talk about, debate, after which go, ‘OK, let’s simply take a vote on it.’ It was majority guidelines, and that’s how we made all of our choices. “
After assembly for weeks, the teams settled on a personal burial. On Saturday morning, tribal pallbearers picked up P-22’s physique from the Pure Historical past Museum, stated Amy Gusick, the museum’s curator of anthropology.
A museum woodworker had been requested to construct a field for P-22’s ultimate journey to the burial web site. He stunned the group with a particular biodegradable casket product of untreated pine and coated with orange oil and beeswax. On the request of the tribes, the museum is retaining the field for any future repatriation of different animals, Gusick stated.
P-22’s physique was buried in a shroud. To guard the grave web site, the situation is not going to be disclosed, attendees stated.
“As a tribal individual, our village websites have been desecrated and destroyed,” Salazar stated. “If individuals discover out that there’s an historic village web site close to them, they’re going to dig them up. It was a priority that not everyone seems to be respectful of a burial. There are some individuals who — it bewilders me — would desire a tooth or a claw from such a sacred animal.”