Environment & Science

2 mountain lion kittens die after being abandoned by their mother

P-57 (male, left) and P-58 (female, right), were abandoned by their three-year-old mother, P-42.
P-57 (male, left) and P-58 (female, right), were abandoned by their three-year-old mother, P-42.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Two local mountain lion kittens have died of starvation after they were apparently abandoned by their mother. The National Park Service first found and tagged the two kittens in a remote area of the Santa Monica Mountains about a month ago.

It's not known for sure why the mom, known by her ID tag as P-42, abandoned them. But Park Service spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall told KPCC it may have been a strategy to protect the kittens from a male mountain lion living in the area. 

"Sometimes a mom will actually leave and travel with a male and mate with a male when her kittens are young," she said. "Seemingly, it's a strategy to distract them from potentially preying upon their kittens." 

The male mountain lion in this case has preyed on another litter before, Kuykendall added.

Kuykendall said it's also possible that P-42 had an unknown biological reason for leaving the litter.