(LOS ANGELES) — Hollywood is home to bizarre sights, but a mountain lion roaming the Hollywood Hills is really wild. And even more bizarre — Hollywood may be this big cat’s home.
Surveillance video captured the lion strolling down Hollyridge Drive, a Hollywood street lined with multi-million dollar homes. The homeowner who captured the video was hoping to catch suspects breaking into cars.
Imagine his surprise when instead of seeing a thief, he saw the mountain lion.
The 125-pound cat, known as P-22, picked a good spot to call home. The area he’s been seen roaming is less than a mile away from Griffith Park’s Bronson Canyon and about a mile and a half south of the iconic Hollywood sign.
Steve Winters, a photographer for the National Geographic Magazine, captured P-22 strolling the Hollywood Hills.
“He wasn’t drawn to the area. He was drawn to living,” Winters told ABC News Wednesday. “If he didn’t leave [the Santa Monica Mountains] he would’ve had to fight the alpha male. He left for self-preservation.”
Winters said it took him six months to track down the mountain lion. He said the high volume of people hiking at Griffith made it almost impossible to follow P-22′s tracks. Instead, Winters set up cameras around the area.
“I figure out where he goes, and I put remote cameras on those trails,” Winters said. “We figure out where he goes by the collar, which is sending signals to a computer which has a map of Griffith. Every two hours it gives a point where the lion is moving.”
The collar Winters is referring to is a radio-collar he put on the animal in August 2012. That collar is how researchers identified P-22 two years later.
Last fall, National Park Service wildlife biologists told The Los Angeles Times they think P-22 made the trek to the Griffith Park area all the way from the Santa Monica Mountains, about 20 miles west of the area.
Researchers said during that trip, the large cat crossed the 101 and 405 freeways.
“They’re trying to find their own space, that’s where they’re leaving,” Winter said. “It’s [Santa Monica Mountains] not big enough for two or three males.”
Winters said he captured these images to show just how close to wildlife we really are.
“It’s incredibly import to try to illustrate how close we live to animals, even in our urban areas,” he said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Jim Acosta, Dana Bash and Tal Kopan, CNN
Steve Visser, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Matt Egan, CNN