P-22 Installation Opens: NHMLA New

An exhibit devoted to LA's most famous feline opens at the Exposition Park museum.

If a major museum created an elaborate and detailed exhibit solely focused on you, and your life, and your adventures, and you happened to be in town on the day that all-about-you exhibit opened, chances are pretty high that you'd be there, in the middle of the excitement, with a glass of Chablis in hand, chatting with museum visitors and probably signing a few autographs, too.

But the latest star of the latest installation at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles won't be in attendance when the comprehensive, photo- and fact-filled display debuts on Friday, July 21. No need craning your neck or bringing an autograph book; the icon of the hour is certain to be a no-show.

That's because the exhibit's main focus is too busy roaming, and hunting, and resting, and making a full life in the scrubby hills above our city, and an exhibit opening simply doesn't fit into his schedule.

It's P-22 we speak of, of course, and NHMLA is celebrating the beloved mountain lion in a new installation called "The Story of P-22: LA's Most Famous Feline." 

If you know your P-22-iana, as in the tidbits and facts of the mountain lion's amazing adventures, then you know where he was born — the Western Santa Monica Mountains — what freeways he's crossed — the 405 and 101, both — and how his sightings around Griffith Park have captured the fancies of countless big cat mavens, here in Southern California and beyond.

The installation goes into depth on his freeway-spanning, hill-wandering journeys, with "graphics, projections, photography, and video" all telling the tail — er, tale — of one of the greatest of superstars in a city brimming with stars.

You'll also discover what P-22 dines upon, how he was collared, and how the feline moves about by night. Territory marking? You can bet that'll be explored, too, in the new show.

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Other nifty additions, like an audio element, which gives visitors a chance to hear what P-22 might be hearing in the park, are also woven through the experience.

Conservation efforts to help our regional big cats will also be explored at the NHMLA display.

P-22 has been known to Angelenos since 2012, when Miguel Ordeñana, the current NHMLA Citizen Science Coordinator, first saw the handsome animal during the Griffith Park Connectivity Study.

It's difficult to remember a time when we didn't look to the hills, and try to imagine what P-22 might be up to, since he's now been part of our urban wilderness story for a half decade.

It's not difficult, though, to add to our understanding of this marvelous mountain lion, our park-based neighbor, through the Natural History Museum's roar-worthy new exhibit.

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