3 healthy kittens born to mountain lion tracked by biologists in wilderness near Los Angeles

In this photograph provided by the National Park Service, a female mountain lion kitten is shown in Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, Thursday May 18, 2023. National Park Service (NPS) biologists announced mountain lion P-77 recently gave birth to three female kittens in the Simi Hills, in the Santa Monica and Santa Susana Mountain ranges. (National Park Service via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mountain lion studied by biologists in wilderness areas near Los Angeles has given birth to three healthy kittens, the National Park Service said Thursday.

The three females estimated to be a month old were found May 18 nestled in a patch of poison oak in the Simi Hills area about 40 miles (65 km) northwest of downtown LA, the park service said in a statement.

They were born to a 5-year-old cougar dubbed P-77 that has been tracked since November 2019. Scientists are calling the babies P-113, P-114 and P-115.

The father isn't immediately known. Biologists aren't currently following any male cougars in P-77's habitat, so they suspect the father might have come from nearby mountains and then went back.

P-77 makes her home in an area between the 101 and 118 freeways overlapping the Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountain ranges.

It's the third mountain lion litter found in the Simi Hills in recent years. P-62 gave birth in 2018 and P-67 delivered a litter in 2020, officials said.

The park service has been studying mountain lions since 2002 in and around the Santa Monica Mountains to determine how they survive in a fragmented and urbanized environment.

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