There's a new resident of the Santa Monica Mountains -- a 4-month-old female mountain lion kitten that National Park Service officials said Tuesday is believed to be the result of inbreeding among the isolated population of lions.
NPS officials, who have been tracking lions in the Santa Monica Mountains for 15 years, identified the kitten's mother as a lion known as P-23, and its father is believed 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.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect age for the mountain lion.