Get ready, Los Angeles. Five new up-and-comers are ready for their big debut — and they're absolutely adorable.
No, we don't mean the cast of a trendy new series on The CW. We mean five mountain lion kittens found in the Santa Susana Mountains, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. National Park Service researchers discovered two litters of kittens in the mountains in June. Two kittens, P-48 and P-49, are both female and were born to mom P-35. The other litter is comprised of P-50 (male), P-51 (female) and P-52 (male). They were born to mom P-39.
The male lion, P-38, is thought to be the father of both litters based on GPS tracking data showing him in the presence of both moms in the months leading up to the pregnancies, reports the Santa Monica Observer. In addition to having their blood drawn to perform paternity tests, the kittens were also tagged for tracking.
Mountain lions in the area face a number of challenges, so the fate of these five kittens will be monitored closely by the National Park Service. A new study from the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science warns mountain lions near LA could be extinct in 50 years if they continue to be isolated by human development. Increased urbanization and the threats that go along with it — including rat poison and cars zipping along on highways — have made it difficult for the mountain lion population to thrive. A recent PLOS One study about the mountain lions around Los Angeles confirmed concerns about poisonings and traffic collisions while also highlighting the lions' hunting patterns — they get much closer to human developments than anyone anticipated — and inbreeding as other risks the big cats face.
But perhaps these five new additions can swing the story in a new direction.
Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated with new information.