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A "Ghost" Mountain Lion Kitten Has Been Discovered In Los Angeles

Wildlife officials had thought a mama mountain lion's entire litter had been killed months ago by a predator, but life apparently found a way.

Posted on December 17, 2015, at 4:06 p.m. ET

This is a mountain lion kitten in the hills above Los Angeles that, until recently, wildlife officials had no idea existed.

NPS / Via

The 3-month-old kitten belongs to a mountain lion named P-23 in the Santa Monica Mountain range that surrounds and juts into the Los Angeles area. The discovery shocked U.S. wildlife officials who thought her entire litter had been killed by a predator.

The kitten's sibling had been the local media's darling du jour when it was found hiding in a den back in February.


Tragedy struck in October, however, when wildlife biologists discovered its remains, the victim of an attack, possibly by an adult male lion.

However, unbeknownst to the team, there was a second kitten who is apparently very good at hiding from researchers and predators alike.

Biologist Jeff Sikich recently noticed something familiar about P-23's movements on GPS, so he set up a camera trap where she had hidden a deer kill. According to the National Park Service, that's when his suspicion was confirmed: P-23 was taking care of a third kitten from her last litter.


The kitten, which is now about 6 months old, can be seen in the footage pulling out the deer carcass and occasionally squeaking.


Since the kitten has yet to be caught and tagged — mountain lions are notoriously hard to track down, hence the nickname "ghost cat" — biologists have yet to assign it a "P" monicker.

But the discovery was nonetheless a reminder for field biologists that when it comes to industrious mountain lions trying to survive in a habitat surrounded by urban development and freeways, things aren't always what they seem.

Watch the kitten video, complete with squeaks, here:

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.