Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area/Facebook

In these captivating photos, a mother and her kittens chow down on a deer in the Santa Monica Mountains.

It was meal time in the Santa Monica Mountains and a family of mountain lions sat down to devour a deer carcass. Nearby, a remote camera set up by the National Park Service watched as they ate. In most of the photos, the lions pay no attention to the camera, content to munch on a detached deer leg. But in a few, the carnivores stare directly into the lens, offering a glimpse into their enormous golden eyes.

Earlier this week, the rangers of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared these photographs on their Facebook page. The images are captivating enough on their own, but they are also important for another reason entirely: they remind us that we aren't the only animals trying to find our place in the urban ecosystem.

"Many people are surprised to hear that mountains lions still live in the chaparral-covered mountains so close to urban Los Angeles," notes the Santa Monica Mountain website. But they do, and we would all do well to remember that there really is no firm line between cities and nature. Something wild is always happening just around the corner.

Warning: If you can't stomach a little gore (albeit totally natural, circle-of-life gore), don't scroll any further than this.  

P-33, one of the kittens (the park rangers refer to each cat by numbered nicknames), chows down. "Mountain lions feed on deer by entering the abdominal cavity first and eating the insides, such as the liver and the heart," Ranger Kate helpfully notes.
Mom (P-19) and brother (P-32) finally join.
Mom approaches the camera.
A full shot of P-33 hovering over her meal.

All photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    At Atlanta’s Rail Stations, a Transit-Oriented Soccer League Takes Shape

    Swaths of empty space at train stations are being turned into athletic fields for kids and adults.

  2. Design

    Lisbon’s Beautiful, Dangerous Sidewalks

    The artistic and slippery “Portuguese pavement” has become Lisbon’s calling card. City Hall wants to replace a few stretches of them with concrete—a seemingly sensible decision that has sparked outrage.

  3. Life

    Uber, but for Driving Your Kids Around

    A slew of small companies have launched in recent years, offering parents a way to outsource their daily driving.

  4. Transportation

    Beverly Hills Has Financed Its Metro Fight With $13 Million In Local Taxes

    Instead of reconstructing aging school facilities, the district is using a voter-backed ballot measure to pay for a legal campaign against a subway extension.

  5. A vacant home on Milwaukee's north side.
    Equity

    Can Milwaukee Really Create 10,000 Affordable Homes?

    The city has an ambitious plan to fix its housing woes. But so far, most of development has been focused on the city’s downtown area.