SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- National Park Service researchers released photos Tuesday of their newest research subjects: two spotted mountain lion kittens between 3 and 4 weeks old.
The female kittens, which are from two separate litters, have been named P-43 and P-44.
P-43 was found underneath thick brush in a remote area of the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu Creek State Park. Researchers have been following P-43's mom, P-23, for years and say this is her second litter.
P-44 was born in an area to the north in the Santa Ana Susana Mountains. According to GPS data, P-44's mother, P-35, traveled with a male lion, P-38, for a few days, about three months before the kittens were born.
"Mountain lions are solitary animals and typically adults only spend time together if they're fighting or mating," said NPS biologist Jeff Sikich. "They're both alive and well, so my guess is that P-38 is the father."
Both kittens were born to single litters, the first documented since NPS researchers began their study on mountain lions in 2002.