You can bet that three of the cutest new residents of the Santa Monica Mountains have been snuggling especially close to mom during this week's cold spell.
The mountain lion cubs, cataloged as P-32, p-33, and P-34, are only a few weeks old and their births were announced this week by the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, via Facebook.
The cubs, two girls and a boy, were born in the Malibu Springs area southeast of Circle X Ranch. This marks the second litter for the mom, P-19. National Park Service biologists are still trying to determine the identity of the father.
This is exciting news, but the cougar kittens will face numerous challenges while growing up and trying to find their way in a territory surrounded by civilization.
Fans of the large cats might recall seeing photographs in late August of a cougar guarding fresh deer kill on Mulholland Highway, not too far from where the new litter was born.
Sadly, they might also recall the 2011 story about the sprouting male cougar, a 15-month-old dubbed p-18, being struck and killed by a vehicle while trying to cross Interstate 405, just south of the Getty Museum off-ramp.
That cougar had recently ventured from his mother's den in Malibu Creek State Park. Its death underscored the need for more wildlife corridor crossings, to give animals a better chance at staking their own territory.
Biologists are now keeping tabs on as many as 22 tagged mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Here's hoping the newest cubs, which were fitted with ear tags while their mom was out hunting, don't feel the need to cross busy roadways anytime soon.
–Photos of P-32, one of three new cougar cubs in the Santa Monica Mountains, are courtesy of the National Park Service