High in the Hollywood Hills, conservationist Tony Tucci was curious about the wildlife still thriving in the urban jungle of Los Angeles. For months, his camera captured all kinds of animals roaming the ridge.
“All the animals that are native, indigenous to this area, they’re still living among us?” CBS News correspondent Carter Evans asked.
“We’re still living among them. They were here first,” said Tucci, chair of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW).
The most surprising discovery was a mountain lion, also called a puma. It has no GPS collar.
“An elusive celebrity, obviously. He’s kind of old Hollywood,” Tucci said.
CLAW is part of an alliance of preservation groups that’s been raising money to protect the last few wildlife corridors in L.A. from development. With the Laurel Canyon Association, they successfully purchased a 17-acre parcel for $1.6 million this week.
“The puma absolutely helped us cross the finish line … but there was also an angel who soared like an eagle, and we can’t be more thankful for Don Henley’s contribution to this,” Tucci said.
Rock legend Don Henley, one of founding members of The Eagles, donated $100,000 in memory of his friend and collaborator, Glenn Frey.
“Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote the song ‘Desperado’ when they lived here in this canyon,” Tucci said.
In a statement Henley said: “These resources are precious, both in terms of wildlife habitat, and in terms of the human history that resides there.”
For the mountain lion in particular, the land is critical “because this is potentially his living room or his den,” Tucci said.
“It needs to be preserved. And the hallways, the wildlife corridors also need to be preserved. So this animal can thrive,” he added.
Several pumas are known to inhabit the Santa Monica Mountains. Most are tagged and well-documented. One called P-22 became something of a celebrity when he was caught on camera near the Hollywood sign. With a little more open space now set aside, this will continue to be “where the wild things are.”
“We are jumping for joy that we can actually protect something like this for generations to come,” Tucci said.
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