A mountain lion was shot dead by authorities in the western outskirts of Los Angeles after it strayed near a popular shopping street.
The animal was spotted in the courtyard of an office building in Santa Monica, which is close to a large wilderness area.
But even there, lion mountains are rarely seen - and they virtually never come down into the city itself.
So police and wildlife officials were called when one of the big cats, estimated to be three years old and weighing about 75lbs (34kg), was spotted wandering in Santa Monica.
However, the animal proved to be more difficult to control than first thought and after a stand-off, the mountain lion was killed.
"A variety of means were used to try to keep the animal back inside the courtyard area," said Santa Monica police spokesman Robert Almada.
"We deployed less-lethal pepper ball, we deployed fire hoses and the animal continued to charge in (an) attempt to flee.
"Regrettably, the animal was euthanised in order to protect public safety."
Animal rights activists voiced dismay at how the situation was handled.
Madeline Bernstein, head of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals LA, said: "Basically, they agitated and frightened a cornered cat before they killed her.
"Hosing a mountain lion down and then shooting her with pepper balls only served to make her more frenzied.
"Deadly force should be used only as a last resort. The citizens and wildlife of California deserve better."