Cougar Dreams Come True Thanks to You!
The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon in the Los Angeles area officially broke ground on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2022. Luminaries, including In Defense of Animals President Marilyn Kroplick, M.D. and California Governor Gavin Newsom, sported shovels to symbolically start digging. Scroll through to visit our photo gallery to see what your generous support accomplished for animals!
Thanks to your generous donations, In Defense of Animals was able to give the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars Campaign Leader Beth Pratt a check for $6,400 on the homestretch of a marathon fundraiser to build the largest wildlife crossing of its kind in the world. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon will reconnect a long-fragmented ecosystem and help protect locally endangered mountain lions and other wild animals in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles, California.
On October 23, 2021, our Campaigns Director Lisa Levinson hand-delivered the check to Beth Pratt on P-22 Day, during an annual festival celebrating Griffith Park’s resident cougar and fostering coexistence with our wild animal neighbors. We expressed our gratitude for being able to join this historical landmark effort to save local mountain lions from extinction.
Experts say local cougars and bobcats currently suffer from a lack of genetic diversity because they lack access to suitable mates on both sides of the highway.
Thanks to your generous donations, and a unique public-private partnership between the California Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Living Habitats, and the National Wildlife Federation, resident cougars will finally have a chance to cross the busy 101 Freeway — where 300,000 cars drive daily — to find mates and survive in this urban landscape.
The 200-foot-long, 165-foot-wide overpass will blend into the surrounding mountain habitat with vegetated barriers to reduce the noise and light impacts from vehicle traffic. Mountain lions, bobcats, gray foxes, coyotes, mule deer, and other wild animals who travel between the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Susana Mountains will now find safe passage.
Each person who made a donation literally helped to build and install the crossing, which broke ground at a high-profile ceremony in April, 2022.
Photo Gallery: A History of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon
"Hollywood Cougar" P-22 crossed two freeways and became isolated in Los Angeles. His lonely fame brought focus to the imminent local extinction of the Santa Monica Mountain lions. Later on, he narrowly avoided death after eating poisoned animals, galvanizing In Defense of Animals and partner organizations to successfully campaign to ban super-toxic rodenticides.
P-32 was tragically killed on the freeway in 2015. Roads have killed 23 mountain lions in less than 20 years. Their deaths were not in vain; they helped rally the cause to Save the LA Cougars. Following the death of P-32, thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters called on Caltrans to build a wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon.
The likely father of cubs P-46 and P-47 was also their grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. In Defense of Animals supporters spoke out again in 2017 supporting initial proposals for the wildlife crossing, highlighting the urgent need to prevent inbreeding.
In Defense of Animals attended public planning forums, joined monthly Wildlife Corridor Working Group meetings, tabled annually at P-22 Day, presented at #SaveLACougars’ virtual conference, and wrote tributes to mountain lions who died crossing Los Angeles highways to build a campaign for safe passage.
In Defense of Animals supporters gave generously to support the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon in 2021.
Lisa Levinson, Campaigns Director for In Defense of Animals, gives Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation a giant check to help build the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing so cougars and bobcats can find mates and survive in Los Angeles.
Dr. Marilyn Kroplick, President of In Defense of Animals celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony with California Senator Henry Stern in April, 2022.
Lisa Levinson, Campaigns Director for In Defense of Animals, and Dr. Marilyn Kroplick, President of In Defense of Animals, envision the benefits the crossing will bring for all animals thanks to our dedicated and generous supporters.
Wildlife crossings reduce the number of wild animal-vehicle collisions, which prevents animals from being directly killed, maimed, or injured. Sadly, an estimated 1-2 million large animals are killed in automobile collisions in the U.S. every day, which are the leading cause of death for many animal species.
Thanks in part to In Defense of Animals supporters, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will now serve as a model for habitat connectivity worldwide!