Mountain lion kittens. Photo via a.scpr.org
Example of mountain lion kittens, not the one in the story. Photo via a.scpr.org

There’s a new resident of the Santa Monica Mountains — a 4-week-old female mountain lion kitten that National Park Service officials said Tuesday is thought to be the result of inbreeding among the isolated population of lions.

NPS officials, who have been tracking lions in the Santa Monica Mountains around the Los Angeles area for 15 years, identified the kitten’s mother as a lion known as P-23, and its father is thought to be P-23’s half brother, known as P-30. Genetic testing still needs to be done on the kitten to confirm the father.

“The good news is that local mountain lions continue to reproduce successfully. Unfortunately, these animals are stuck on an island of habitat, with very little movement in and out of the Santa Monica Mountains, which has led to multiple cases of inbreeding,” said Jeff Sikich, biologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The kitten is the third litter for P-23, and — if confirmed — the first fathered by P-30. P-23’s two previous litters were preyed upon by other animals, but one of the kittens survived and is now known as P-53.

While mountain lions are often considered scary, they are far more often victims of human activity than the other way around. A number have been killed trying to cross busy streets or freeways.

— City News Service

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