Schiff launches effort to honor Puma P-22 with postage stamp
Since the death of P-22 in December, Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion has been honored with roadside tributes, half a dozen murals and an upcoming celebration of life in Griffith Park that is expected to attract thousands of people.
Now Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) is pushing for a more permanent honor: a P-22 postage stamp.
In a letter sent Friday to the federal committee recommending new U.S. stamps, Schiff wrote that P-22 was a “magnificent and savage creature, one that reminded us all that we are part of a natural world so much larger than ourselves. “.
“When I think of what I would like to see on a postage stamp to represent the wild and beautiful aspect of Los Angeles, I think of P-22,” Schiff said in an interview. “Representing Hollywood, I have many very famous voters, but none more famous than P-22.”
Schiff recommended that the riff stamp on the image that made P-22 famous: a nighttime photo of the fawn cat prowling in front of the Hollywood sign, which was published in National Geographic.
The Hollywood sign turns 100 this year, so the stamp would honor two symbols of Los Angeles, Schiff said.
If selected, the P-22 will join the ranks of dozens of other California icons honored with stamps, including actors, authors, artists such as wildlife photographer Ansel Adams and sculptor Ruth Asawa, as well as the flora and fauna, including the giant sequoias of the Sierra Nevada and the California sea lion.
The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, an 11-member group that reviews thousands of submissions each year, will review the P-22 proposal.
The committee meets quarterly and recommends about two dozen designs per year. In 2023, the Postal Service will unveil designs honoring pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and the iconic yellow American school bus.
Committee meetings are closed to the public and in-person calls are not permitted.
The committee decides “with all postal customers in mind, including stamp collectors” and favors stamps that “pay tribute to extraordinary and enduring contributions to American society, history, culture, or environment “said the Postal Service.
Recommendations from the Stamp Committee are sent to the Postmaster General for final approval.
Subjects that are not selected may be resubmitted in three years.
Members of the public can write and support the nomination, or nominate P-22 themselves, Schiff said. All communications to the Stamp Committee should be mailed—yes, with a stamp—to Washington, D.C.
“He won a stamp,” said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation, who was often called the P-22 agent. “This cat has influenced wildlife conservation globally. It’s no exaggeration.”
Pratt said a P-22 stamp could show the kind of support the puma enjoys in California. The memorial scheduled for P-22 on Saturday at the 5,900-seat Greek Theater in Griffith Park has been sold out for weeks.
“They’re going to get 4 million letters,” Pratt said.
If the P-22 proposal doesn’t do the trick, Schiff says, “we will continue to submit this request until we are successful.”
The letter to the stamp advisory committee was also signed by Southern California representatives Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance).
As a teenage cat, P-22 took the unlikely trek to Griffith Park from his birthplace in the Santa Monica Mountains, traveling through the Hollywood Hills and across the 405 and 101 freeways.
Scientists had considered the park too small for an apex predator. But P-22 stayed in Griffith Park for 11 years, occasionally venturing into nearby neighborhoods including Los Feliz and Silver Lake.
Cut off from the rest of its kind by highways and urban development, P-22 never found a mate. Its isolation and proximity to city lights have helped make it the face of an international conservation campaign to save Southern California’s endangered cougars.
“For all we do with him, this cat didn’t know any of that – he didn’t know he was famous,” said National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, who took the iconic photo of the Hollywood sign. P-22, in a recent interview. “We need to continue her story and hope that California’s other endangered cougars can bounce back and thrive.”
Donors around the world have contributed tens of millions of dollars to build a wildlife bridge over a 10-lane stretch of the 101 in Agoura Hills. The bridge, slated to open in 2025, is expected to create a connection between two local populations of cougars living on opposite sides of the highway.
P-22 was euthanized in December after tests revealed several serious health issues, including a fractured skull, torn diaphragm, and heart, kidney and liver disease. The big cat was hit by a driver in Los Feliz about a week before he died.
Los Angeles Times