Category: Wild cats

P-22, ‘A Celebration of Life’ To Live Stream On Feb. 4

You don’t often hear about public memorials for cats, let alone thousands of people participating in them, but the fact that tickets were gone for P-22’s “Celebration of Life” within three hours speaks to the special place the mountain lion had in the hearts of Californians.

The famous puma, who was euthanized in December after he was suffering from an infection and was hit by a car, called Los Angeles’ Griffith Park home, and that’s where the celebration will be held at noon Pacific (3 pm Eastern) on Feb. 4. It’ll be held at The Greek, the outdoor amphitheater more commonly associated with rock stars, although one could argue P-22 was a rock star in his own right.

P-22 was the subject of books, movies and music festivals during his 12-year life, and his face adorned t-shirts, murals and street signs asking people to be careful while driving around the Griffith Park area, where the big guy ranged. He was the most famous mountain lion in an ongoing study of his species, and was easily identified by the radio collar around his neck.

P-22’s “origin story” was equally fascinating. Born in southern California in 2010 or 2011, the fearless puma migrated north, crossing several of the busiest and most dangerous highways in the world before he settled in Los Angeles. His nine-mile home range was the smallest ever recorded for a member of his species.

Bookmark this link or this alternate to livestream the event, which is set to include music, performances and remembrances from Los Angelinos and celebrities who loved the “Hollywood Lion.”

Separately, there’s an effort to honor the late puma with postage stamps featuring his famously derpy visage.

Top image credit Miguel Ordeñana/Natural History Museum. Bottom image credit Steve Winter.

p22hollywood2
Steve Winter’s iconic photo of P-22 prowling in front of the Hollywood sign.

UPDATED: Monkeys Go Missing From Dallas Zoo Weeks After Clouded Leopard Freed From Habitat

UPDATE, 2/1/2023: A tip led police to an empty home in Lancaster, Texas, about 15 miles from the zoo. The missing tamarins were found inside a closet and were unharmed, per CNN. They were returned to the zoo and examined by veterinarians.

Police still want to speak to an unidentified man (see story below) who was seen on zoo grounds, but they haven’t said what the man was doing or how he may be connected to the thefts. The abduction of the tamarins follows two other incidents of breached enclosures at the zoo, and the theft of 12 squirrel monkeys from Zoosiana in Broussard, Louisiana, this weekend.


Original story, 1/31/2023:

Dallas police released a photo of a “person of interest” they’d like to speak to after a pair of emperor tamarin monkeys went missing from their enclosure in the Dallas Zoo, the latest of three incidents in which animal habitats at the zoo were breached by human hands.

The first incident happened on Jan. 13 when zookeepers noticed a three-year-old clouded leopard named Nova was missing from her enclosure. They found a breach in the mesh netting that serves as one of enclosure barriers, and said it was a clean, intentional cut with a blade, not from the animals.

After a frantic search — and multiple appeals to the public informing people the leopard was not dangerous and should not be shot — zookeepers found Nova hiding in a tree on the zoo grounds, not far from her enclosure. Nova’s sister, Luna, lives in the same enclosure and remained there.

That same day, staff at the zoo also found another breach, this time at the langur exhibit. Langurs are old-world, leaf-eating monkeys native to Asia. None of the monkeys were missing, but the discovery strengthened the suspicion that someone had tried to steal Nova and at least one monkey, but were not successful.

Now it appears that same person or a copycat has been successful in another habitat. On Jan. 30, zookeepers found a breach in a habitat that hold’s the zoo’s emperor tamarin monkeys. Two of the monkeys were missing.

Tamarins are tiny arboreal new world monkeys that have become popular pets due to “influencers” popularizing them on sites like Youtube and celebrities purchasing them.

tamarinwithbabies
A tamarin mother with her babies. Primate babies are virtually attached to their mothers for the first years of their lives

There are an estimated 15,000 monkeys living as pets in the US, and some species fetch up to $7,500 as infants, when they’re violently “pulled” from their mothers when they’re just days old and sold. Most are temporary pets, lasting up to two years before docile, adorable infants become destructive, resentful juveniles and the “owners” decide to cut their losses. Buying monkeys as pets and subsequently abandoning them has become so common that sanctuary spots are at a premium, with a handful of sanctuaries taking thousands of monkeys annually.

Some people buy new babies every year or two, shipping the “old” ones off to sanctuaries — or simply dumping them in the woods where they don’t know how to fend for themselves — and repeating the process of infantalizing newly-purchased monkeys. Macaques, capuchins, marmosets and tamarins are the most popular monkeys kept as pets.

Despite the appeal to some people, humans cannot meet the social or environmental needs of monkeys, who naturally live in troops with complex social hierarchies and relationships.

“Monkeys are not surrogate children, and they’re not little people,” the Humane Society’s Debbie Leahy told the New York Post in a 2013 story.

“Pulling” monkeys from their mothers traumatizes infants and the mothers, and there is a wealth of data from primate maternal deprivation studies — going all the way back to the cruel experiments of psychologist Harry Harlow — documenting the psychological damage done to the animals when they’re removed from their mothers and troops.

“If you try to keep them as pets you’re creating a mentally disturbed animal in 99.9 percent of the cases,” Kevin Wright, director of conservation, science and sanctuary at Phoenix Zoo told National Geographic. “The animal will never be able to fit in any other home. Never learn how to get along with other monkeys. And, more often than not, will end up with a lot of behavioral traits that are self-destructive.”

rhesusmonkeybaby
A rhesus monkey baby, already separated from its mother at just a few days old.

Tamarins, which are often called “pocket monkeys” by people who keep them as pets, can fetch up to $5,000 apiece, generally less than larger primates like capuchins or macaques. Demand for macaques has skyrocketed since the pandemic, as laboratories test various drugs on the old world monkeys, and prices for infants have risen as well.

Despite officials at Dallas Zoo installing additional cameras and increasingly patrols on the grounds at night, an intruder or intruders were able to evade detection and successfully remove the animals some time between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Police have released an image of a man who was seen strolling through the zoo and have asked for the public’s help identifying him so detectives can speak with him. Police did not say why they believe the man, who is pictured wearing a hooded jacket and eating Doritos, would have information on the missing animals or what his role might be.

close up photo of a tamarin monkey
An emperor tamarin. Credit: Nathan J Hilton/Pexels

Manly, Heroic Ex-NFL Player Kills Puma For Fun, Cries About Backlash

Derek Wolfe is a badass.

The 295-lb former NFL lineman recently got a license to kill mountain lions, so when he heard about a puma that was “terrorizing” a Colorado community by existing near it, he packed his weapons of war, rounded up his hounds and set off, trailing testosterone like a beefed up Jim Corbett gone to deliver justice to the Champawat tiger.

First he spoke to a local homeowner, who had an ominous warning for him.

“And when we had talked to the landowner, they said, ‘Hey, we have house cats. And the cats are acting weird.’

No doubt the cats were agitated and wanted to get out there to cause havoc with their feline brother by existing and eating stuff. The cats would have to be dealt with later.

Arriving at the scene, Wolfe (what a badass name) found the remains of a recently-killed deer and knew the evil mountain lion hadn’t reformed its ways. By continuing to exist despite the discomfort of people in the area, and continuing to eat, the defiant cougar was practically asking to be hunted down and killed.

bowofrighteous

Moving downwind of the fearsome predator so that it wouldn’t smell the pheromonal cloud of machismo that permanently surrounds him, Wolfe began climbing. The ascent was exhausting — not only is the 6’5″ Wolfe almost 300 pounds, but he was also carrying his sword, his health elixirs and his Bow of Righteous Smiting, a 1,000-DPS legendary weapon he obtained after slaying the Goblin King of Dreadmoore. Wolfe was carrying more than 400 pounds up the slope when he caught sight of the puma and did what men of testicular fortitude do: he released the hounds, who cornered the cat and chased it up a tree.

Then, with righteous fury, Wolfe drew his bow and killed — excuse me, “harvested” — the mountain lion, whose species is notoriously averse to conflict with humans and has killed fewer people in a century than dogs do in a week. But what are a few inconvenient facts between friends, amirite?

When Wolfe descended the treacherous slope with the corpse of the mighty cat like Geralt of Rivia toting the trophy from a monster hunt, the villagers applauded and sang songs of his bravery, then feasted in his honor.

wolfekill
Derek Wolfe, conqueror. Credit: Derek Wolfe/Instagram

But all was not well, for when Wolfe posted the manly photos of himself posing manfully with the corpse of the big not-quite-big cat, a contingent of insignificant peons criticized him on Instagram for killing an animal that was allegedly “just surviving.”

So Wolfe did what men of his stature do, and went on Tucker Carlson’s show to cry about the rodential men and women nipping at his heels.

wolfecarson
Wolfe on Carlson’s TV show. Credit: Fox News

It is said that the combined testosterone of Wolfe and Carlson created a vortex of badassery that threatened to spark untameable hair and muscle growth in anyone who ventured too close. Female assistants had to be ushered out of the studio before the segment began, and the lesser men manning the cameras had to sign waivers absolving Wolfe and Carlson of blame if they were transformed into hulking man-beasts by the combined presence of the former lineman and the scion of a TV dinner empire.

“I’ve been through some tough training camps, brother, but this hunt was –  man – it beat me up bad. I was beat up bad. I’m all cut up and scraped up. I was in full-body cramps [and] barely made it up there,” Wolfe told Carlson.

Wolfe proceeded to regale Carlson with tales of how dangerous mountain lions are. Puma concolor, the scientific name for the species, is responsible for a whopping 27 deaths in the last century. That’s one person every four years, and most of those people triggered the confrontations by getting too close to puma cubs or cornering the animals. By comparison, dogs kill 25,000 people a year via attacks, and another 25,000 by spreading disease, the latter mostly in third-world countries. Cows killed 655 Americans over a nine-year period from 1999 to 2007. More than 40,000 Americans are killed in car crashes annually.

And while you’re 25 times more likely to be killed by a tornado than a shark, there were five times as many fatal shark attacks (144) in the US over the past century compared to fatal mountain lion attacks.

In other words, pumas rank extremely low on the list of potential dangers to people, despite their size and their superficial resemblance to much more dangerous African lions. Pumas/mountain lions, also known as catamounts and cougars, actively avoid humans and try to steer clear of conflict with people. When they kill a deer or even a pet, it’s not because they’re “terrorizing” communities — it’s because they’re obligate carnivores who need to eat meat to survive.

photo of a cougar near a log
A mountain lion. Credit: Nicky Pe/Pexels

Wolfe explained that it’s important to “tree” mountain lions in order to do recon on them and make sure they’re appropriately big and impressive-looking.

“Those full-grown males will kill kittens as well, they’ll kill kittens to get the females to go back into heat,” Wolfe said, confusing terms and the dominance behavior of African lions with American pumas, which are not the same species. “It’s important to manage that herd, right? You have to manage every population of animal out here, especially mountain lions. So we got the dogs on ’em.”

Who knew cats were herd animals? Who knew pumas had decided to give up their solitary lifestyles and live in prides? Who knew former NFL linebackers arbitrarily killing random pumas qualifies as ‘managing a population’? Someone call the wildlife biologists so they can rewrite their field guides!

Despite his ability to scale mountains and slay (mountain) lions, Wolfe was wounded by the backlash when he posted photos of himself with his “harvest.”

“I can’t believe what’s happening to me…They’ve had 200 calls to Colorado Parks and Wildlife trying to turn me in like I did something wrong,” Wolfe complained. “I’ve been harassed.”

Disclaimer: Since this is the internet, and this post is bound to bring in readers unfamiliar with PITB and the fact that we’re sarcastic jerks, allow us to state for the record that Wolfe did not kill the Goblin King of Dreadmoore, does not own the legendary Bow of Righteous Smiting, and we’re not exactly sure if the villagers in the unidentified rural Colorado community threw a feast in Wolfe’s honor after he returned with the corpse of the cat that had been “terrorizing” their community. I mean, they probably feasted him, but we haven’t confirmed it.

SUNDAY CATS: Mountain Lion Scared Off By Buddy Look-Alike, Bodega Cat ‘Bridget Moynahan’ Goes Missing

A mountain lion got more than it bargained for when it found itself face to face with a ferocious furball last week.

The puma was taking a breather near a home on Jan. 5 when it turned, realizing there was a pair of eyes watching it. Those eyes belonged to the resident cat, a 13-year-old moggie who was not pleased to see a wild intruder in its territory.

The puma initially squared off on the other side of a sliding glass door as if saying “You want some of this?” but seemed shocked when the domestic cat, rather than backing down, launched into a series of feints and yowls.

The puma flinched a few times, then decided to vacate the premises.

Clearly, the wild cat found itself wondering about the identity of the tabby.

“Is that Buddy the Cat? Oh crap! If it’s him, I’m in trouble! They say he has huge meowscles and is a master of 36 styles of Kung Fu!”

Bridget Moynahan joins the search for Bridget Moynahan

Blue Bloods actress Bridget Moynahan gave a boost to the search for a missing cat bearing her name.

The 51-year-old actress lent her star power to the search by posting about it on Instagram, where she has 345,000 followers.

The missing kitty belongs to the owner of a Manhattan bodega, and spends her days napping on the shelves and being admired by customers.

There are an estimated 10,000 bodegas in New York City, where traditional grocery stores don’t really fit into an urban lifestyle where most people don’t own cars and can’t load up two weeks’ worth of groceries in a minivan.

To keep mice and rats at bay, most of New York’s bodegas have cats. They’re technically illegal, but because having a cat in the store carries the same $300 penalty as having rodents, bodega owners opt for the former. The cats are beloved by New Yorkers, and the city is mostly content to overlook their presence unless there are major health violations.

Bridget-Moynahan-Cat-20191125_38-79f2e6948165428bae9b486654bd3feb

Get the Army Corps of Engineers 2023 Cat Calendar for free

If you still haven’t picked up a calendar for the New Year, the Army Corps of Engineers has got you covered.

Their 2023 Cat Calendar features magnificent moggies in giant form, scratching, lounging and napping on ships, jetties, dams and dredges.

Click here to download the printable PDF of the calendar.

Who Freed Dallas Zoo’s Clouded Leopard? Cops Say Cat’s Enclosure Was Intentionally Breached

A clouded leopard who went missing from her enclosure was intentionally let loose according to police, who have opened a criminal investigation.

The medium-size wildcat, whose species is native to the foothills of the Himalayas, escaped from her enclosure some time between late Thursday night and Friday morning, prompting a zoo-wide shutdown and a massive coordinated search. During that time, zoo staff emphasized to local press — and in social media posts — that clouded leopards are not aggressive toward people and the escaped cat wasn’t a threat.

She was eventually found safe and unharmed on zoo grounds, hiding in a tree not far from her enclosure, at about 4:40 p.m. on Friday. She was secured within 35 minutes, zoo officials told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But that’s not the end of the saga. Zoo staff say the leopard, a three-year-old named Nova, didn’t escape on her own — a person or persons breached the two-story exhibit by cutting through the mesh fence. Nova’s sister, Luna, lives in the same enclosure and did not leave the area.

Clouded_leopard_(14134537190)
A clouded leopard. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Now investigators are trying to determine if the people responsible for breaching the enclosure were committing an act of vandalism or intended to take the 25-pound wildcat.

“We found a suspicious opening in the habitat wall in front of the exhibit,” a Dallas Zoo official told reporters on Friday afternoon. “It was clear that this opening was not exhibit failure and it wasn’t keeper error.”

Police are reviewing surveillance footage and looking for clues in the 106-acre zoological park, which is located about three miles south of downtown Dallas and is home to more than 2,000 animals.

“It is their (Dallas Zoo officials’) belief and it is our belief that this was an intentional act, so we have started a criminal investigation,” Sgt. Warren Mitchell of the Dallas Police Department said.

Harrison Edell, vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo, warned against anyone attempting to steal zoo animals.

“This is a cat of conservation concern,” Edell said. “This is not a pet — she’s a critically important member of our family at Dallas Zoo.”

Clouded_Leopard_b_d
Clouded leopards diverged from a common ancestor shared with big cats, but typically don’t grow to more than 30 or 40 pounds. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Clouded_Leopard_(36997885773)
There are fewer than 10,000 clouded leopards left in the wild. In captivity, the wildcats live for 11 years on average. Credit: Wikimedia Commons