SAN FRANCISCO, October 20, 2023 — A lone puma’s journey across the diverse landscapes of Central California is the focus of a new graphic novel that will be released on Oct. 24. Written by Center for Biological Diversity scientist Tiffany Yap, D.Env./Ph.D. and illustrated by Seattle-based artist Meital Smith, “Tales of the Urban Wild: A Puma’s Journey” takes the reader through diverse habitats, across busy freeways and inside science labs to learn about one mountain lion’s survival story.
“Mountain lions are so often misunderstood that I wanted to show all the reasons to admire and protect them,” said Yap. “I hope readers come away feeling connected to nature and excited about the dazzling biodiversity that exists alongside us, and I hope they’re inspired to do their part to safely coexist with our wild neighbors.”
The novel, a debut for Yap and Smith, follows the protagonist mountain lion as he’s captured by scientists and tagged as C-8. The male cougar traverses urban wildlands, which are drawn in rich amber hues, and encounters people, wildlife and other mountain lions in his path. Through C-8’s challenging and heart-warming journey, readers learn about the history of these iconic cats and the myriad threats that encroach on their territories.
Yap, who based the graphic novel on scientific research and actual events, is the lead author of a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to protect Southern California and Central Coast mountain lions under the state Endangered Species Act. They currently have temporary protections as a candidate species, and a decision from the commission to formally protect them is expected in 2024.
Yap is also the lead author of “California Connections: How Wildlife Connectivity Can Fight Extinction and Protect Public Safety,” a Center report.
The effort to save California mountain lions from extinction is a key part of the Center’s work. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act in 2022 to require more wildlife crossings when building and improving roads and highways. Vehicle strikes are a major threat to mountain lions, whose habitat has been boxed in by overdevelopment. Newsom also signed two pieces of legislation to place a moratorium on toxic rat poison, which is harmful to mountain lions, as well as pets and people. All three bills were co-sponsored by the Center.
Here are the upcoming events for “Tales of the Urban Wild: A Puma’s Journey”:
- P-22 Day Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles
- Book Launch Party, Nov. 2, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Cape & Cowl Comics, 1601 Clay St., Oakland
- Portland Book Festival, Nov. 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Portland Art Museum and surrounding venues in downtown Portland
For more information about the book and other events, visit tiffanyyap.com/tales-of-the-urban-wild.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.