Two tagged mountain lion kittens born in the Santa Monica mountains have starved to death after being abandoned by their mother, it was announced Monday.
The kittens -- a male known as P-57 and a female designated P-58, died after being abandoned by their 3-year-old mother, according to Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service.
They were born a few months ago in the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and believed to be the first litter born to the mother cat, known as P-42, Kuykendall said.
"Like all wild animals, many young do not survive until adulthood," according to a statement posted by Kuykendall on Facebook. "Interestingly, adult male P-27 visited the den and he and the mom traveled together for six days," according to Kuykendall.
"We have seen a similar scenario in our study when the mom will leave the den with another male, seemingly to distract him from preying on the kittens, and will then return and move the kittens to a new location. Unfortunately, in this case, P-42 did not return."
The kittens were tagged when they were four weeks old, Kuykendall said.
"We hiked in to the den and discovered the kittens had been abandoned," she told City News Service. "The actual cause of death was starvation."