This is a seriously cute photo, but the attached story offers a lesson in habitat isolation and its worrisome effects on genetic diversity . . .
Admit it. You only clicked on this story because of the photo of that insanely cute mountain lion kitten. You just wanted to gaze into her (yes, it’s a her) milky blue eyes.
But there’s more to the story of this kitten. Researchers have named her P-54. She’s no more than a few months old. And – this is the sad part – it’s likely that she’s the product of inbreeding.
The kitten was born amidst the urban sprawl of Southern California in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the country. The recreation area is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields and greater Los Angeles.