A Los Angeles mountain lion was safely captured for relocation Friday afternoon.
After being spotted at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills around 7 a.m., the school was placed on lockdown temporarily as a safety precaution and to help responders locate the lion.
Around lunchtime, Sky5 (KTLA's news helicopter) showed the lion sitting on a wall near the edge of campus. As officers approached, the lion leapt from the wall, crossed the street in front of a police SUV, and took refuge in a resident's yard.
Nearly a dozen LA Police Department officers began surrounding the yard. An officer from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife safely sedated the lion with tranquilizer darts.
After a few minutes of stumbling around the bushes, the lion was immobilized. The animal was carried to the bed of an officer's pickup truck for a quick exam.
With the helicopter still live broadcasting from above, the public saw the lion begin to overheat in the sun in the black-lined open bed of the truck.
Responding officers did not appear to have an animal crate for transport, a tarp, or eye drops. Others questioned why no one handling the cat was wearing gloves. Though less than ideal conditions, a few officers quickly improvised and grabbed the homeowner's garden hose to cool down the cat.
The mountain lion is expected to be released back into the wild later today.
While P-22 and other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains frequently make headlines in California newspapers, this lion was most likely from the larger Angeles National Forest, which is just a few miles away from the high school.
Young lions are kicked out of their mother's territory around their second birthday and must disperse to find a new home. These young, inexperienced subadults are on their own for the first time. As such, they are the ones most likely to wander into human populated areas as they learn to navigate the landscape. Programmed to roam, these younger lions are also the best candidates for relocation.
With each capture and release, first responders can learn more about lions and improve their wildlife handling skills. Today offered a lucky second chance for a lost lion, and experience for LA officers that will hopefully guarantee a quick and painless relocation for the next lion who happens to wander into a local urban area.