House cat was a cougar!
A celebrity mountain lion that lounged under a home for hours and refused to budge despite bean bags, tennis balls and prods has wandered out on its own, wildlife officials said.
A thorough check turned up no sign of the big cat. It is known as P-22 and was found under a residence in the hilly Los Feliz neighborhood. That's near Los Angeles. This was according to Lt. J.C. Healy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Officials from the National Park Service were trying to pick up a signal from the electronic beacon on the cougar's collar to determine its whereabouts.
Homeowner Rachel Archinaco told television station KABC that workers were installing a home security system. They encountered the cougar in a crawl space.
"The one worker came sprinting through our house, white-faced, shouting, 'There's a mountain lion under your house!'" she said.
The wild mountain lion, which has a red ear tag, normally lives in Griffith Park. It is right next to the neighborhood featuring hillsides covered in thick brush. The animal arrived in the area several years ago from the western slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains. It crossed two freeways to get there.
National Geographic famously photographed P-22 in 2013 with the Hollywood sign in the background. Several sharp photographs from a remote camera in Griffith Park captured the cat last year.
He survived mange and a meal of rat poison last year to become apparently healthy again.
At the home, wildlife officials cleared most media and gawkers away after darkness fell. Then they used several techniques that would not injure the animal to try to get him to leave. Trying to get the mountain lion to move on was handled by professionals.
Gently, they poked him with a long prod, but that did little other than temporarily lose the pricey GoPro camera they had attached to the end of it.
They fired a tennis ball cannon into the crawl space. The idea was that the noise and commotion would scare him out, a tactic that often works with coyotes.
They then fired small bean bags, the same kind police sometimes use for human crowd control, toward the cat. The mountain lion seemed unimpressed.
All the tactics, shown live on streaming video, drew mild reactions from P-22. None came close to drawing him out or even getting him to move much.
Archinaco's husband, Jason, said the couple has three ordinary house cats and had thought about adding to their numbers.
"My wife wanted a fourth one," he said, "but not this way."
Critical thinking challenge: How did the mountain lion become a celebrity?