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An Asiatic Lion in the Loft

mountain lion in crawl space

This image, taken by NBCLA chief photographer Sean Browning [1], shows the famed mountain lion P-22 inhabiting the crawl space of a Los Angeles home.

A mountain lion was found living in the crawl space of a Los Angeles home by an unsuspecting security technician in the spring of last year [2]. And this was not just any mountain lion. It was the famed research mountain lion P-22, which has its own Facebook fan page [3]. Another lion — an unnamed Asiatic lion — was found under astonishingly similar circumstances in the loft of a 2nd millennium BC house by the Babylonian civil servant Yakim-Addu [4]:

Tell my lord: Your servant Yakim-Addu sends the following message:

A short time ago I wrote to my lord as follows: “A lion was caught in the loft of a house in Akkaka. My lord should write me whether this lion should remain in that same loft until the arrival of my lord, or whether I should have it brought to my lord.” But letters from my lord were slow in coming and the lion has been in the loft for five days. Although they threw him a dog and a pig, he refuses to eat them. I was worrying: “Heaven forbid that this lion pine away.” I became scared, but eventually I got the lion into a wooden cage and loaded it on a boat to have it brought to my lord.

At first read it would seem that Yakim-Addu’s alarm is misplaced. He is more concerned with the reaction of his lord, than he is by the presence of an Asiatic lion in the community. But this is because the hunting of lions was reserved for the king, and Yakim-Addu fears that he will be held responsible if the beast dies within his jurisdiction. The lion’s fate is unknown, but it was most likely dispatched by the king in a royal hunt. It has no Facebook fan page as yet.


[1] Sean Browning [ShootSeanNBCLA]. (14 April 2015). One last shot of the famous P-22 mountain lion hiding under a Los Feliz house tonight. Beautiful beast! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/ShootSeanNBCLA/status/587871131916304384

[2] Mountain Lion P-22 “Left the Building” After Hours Under House by Kathy Vara and Asher Klein, NBCLA – Tuesday, 14 April 2015. NBC4 News.

[3] Friends of P22 Mountain Lion. (established 2014). In Facebook [Group page]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/P22mountainlion/

[4] Letters From Mesopotamia: Official, Business, and Private Letters on Clay Tablets from Two Millennia by A. Leo Oppenheim (1967), The University of Chicago Press, page 108. This book is currently out of print, but a more or less complete pdf version is available for download from The Oriental Institute at The University of Chicago.

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