Say hello to two of southern California’s newest residents: a pair of feisty mountain lions recently discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Adorable video released by the National Park Service Thursday captured the pint-sized babies hissing and purring at the camera outside their wooded den.
The video of the male and female was shot shortly after their mother, who received a tracking device shortly after her own birth, left the den, biologists with the National Park Service said.
A second video, taken at the time of the mother's return, shows the kittens squeaking and nuzzling each another before they're inspected and licked by mom.
The discovery confirmed researchers’ suspicions that the mother, named P-45 -- the P standing for puma -- had recently given birth.
Her GPS locations showed that the mom stayed in one specific area during a three-week period, “indicating that she was likely denning with her kittens,” the NPS said in a release Thursday.
Researchers had been tracking the mom since 2010 when she was just a few weeks old, they said. In the second video, she's clearly seen wearing a tracking collar around her neck.
Responding to one YouTube user's concern over the device's size, researchers said the collars make up a very small percentage of the animal's body weight.
"During our 13 years of using them to track mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains, we have seen no evidence that they impact the animals movement, hunting, reproduction, or care for its offspring," they said in one video's comment section.
"These more recent versions of collars have new features, like drop-off mechanisms that allow us to either program the collar to drop off at a certain date or can be remotely triggered from a computer," they added.
Using such technology, researchers said they were able to monitor the mother the last time she gave birth. In that instance, her litter was determined to be the result of inbreeding with her father, P-12.
At the moment, it’s not clear who fathered her latest kittens -- named P-46 and P-47 -- though recently another large adult male was captured and tagged in the same area. Researchers hope to use DNA testing to determine the father.
Unfortunately for these cats, the area they live in is described as a kind of island habitat, where it’s not easy for mountain lions or much other wildlife to come in and out, resulting in inbreeding.
Developers hope to change that, however, with the creation of a wildlife crossing across the 101 Freeway in Agora Hills, which has an estimated $30 million price tag, according to the NPS.
That path would open up the area to the Simi Hills, allowing more animals to safely come in and out of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area -- the largest urban national park in the U.S.
“We continue to see successful reproduction, which indicates that the quality of the natural habitat is high for such a relatively urbanized area,” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the park, in a release. “But these kittens have many challenges ahead of them, from evading other mountain lions, to crossing freeways, to dealing with exposure to rat poison."
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