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Mountain Lion Killed After Wandering Into Downtown Santa Monica (Video)

Mountain Lion Santa Monica - H 2012

The large cat startled a janitor as it trotted down the street at 6 a.m., and was eventually chased into the courtyard of a nearby office complex.

A 100-pound, female mountain lion wandered out of the Santa Monica Mountains and into densely populated downtown Santa Monica today -- an area occupied by a large number of entertainment production companies -- where it was eventually killed by local police.

The animal startled a janitor as it trotted down the boutique-and-cafe-lined Arizona Ave. at 6 a.m. this morning, and was later chased by Santa Monica Police into the courtyard of a complex located at 1227 2nd St. -- a glass office building that houses a dance studio and a continuing education college for seniors, among other things.

Police cordoned off the street while they waited for Fish and Game wardens to arrive on the scene. News helicopters circled above as the two agencies worked together to tranquilize and contain the lion. Wardens attempted to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer dart, but when its effects failed to take hold, they used pepper-spray projectiles and even a Fire Department hose to keep it from escaping, according to Capt. Daniel Sforza of California Dept. of Fish and Game..

KTLA reporter Eric Spillman tweeted from the scene that it was a Santa Monica Police officer who fired the shots that killed the lion after it was deemed too great a public risk. It was an extreme measure that was nonetheless unavoidable, according to Andrew Hughan, public information officer for the state Fish and Game Department.

"We don’t take this stuff lightly and we exhausted every possibility that we could," Hughan told The Hollywood Reporter. "Tranquilizers don’t work like they do in the movies. They take time to work. There is a lot of misunderstanding. We never want to do this, we never want to destroy an animal. The safety of the public is the most important thing. An animal filled up with tranquilizers is capable of anything."

An autopsy is being performed on the mountain lion -- whose descent into a crowded city is considered very unusual -- to test for rabies or other diseases.

The article contains additional reporting by Daniel Miller.