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Rescued Florida Panther Kitten
August 21, 2014

At first he cautiously looked at this new opening, then stepped forward just enough to see what lay beyond; then a slow walk along the back fence, near to his familiar holding pen, where for the last several months, he had been brought for half an hour, twice a day, to acclimate him to his future home.

Gaining confidence, he moved further out into the open space and started exploring. He paced around the perimeter, being distracted occasionally by some plant or feature that called for a brush or a paw or a chew, and glanced at all the people up on the boardwalk watching his every move. Suddenly, a large butterfly flew past him and, instincts taking over, he burst into chase mode and leapt after it. Seeing it fly away, too high, he just as quickly resumed his slow pace and exploration.

He came to the front to see what all the commotion was about, having no idea it was him, and he seemed to be looking for one of his ranger friends to come in and play with him.

At one point he stopped when he recognized Dr. Ray Ball, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo head veterinarian, who had raised him from "Chilly Willie" to Yuma, Son of the Chief. He made two chirps, calling out to his

May 28, 2014

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Park Service today celebrated Yuma, a Florida panther kitten, and his move to his permanent habitat at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Yuma arrived at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park on April 3 of this year. Yuma is a Native-American word that means “son of the chief.” As a one-week old kitten, he was discovered barely alive on Jan. 23 by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologists checking on the den of a female panther in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Naples. The kitten had apparently been abandoned, was dehydrated and non-responsive. He received emergency care at Animal Specialty Hospital in Naples and rehabilitative care at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

Since he cannot return to the wild, he will live at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where he will serve as an ambassador for his species. Park staff and volunteers have been preparing this exhibit for the rambunctious panther kitten for the last seven months.

It is estimated that only 100 to 160 adult panthers remain of the species. Most of them are located in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Dade and Monroe counties. By 1995, only 20 to 30 panthers remained in the wild. That year, eight female Texas cougars were relocated to the area to restore genetic viability. The biggest threat to Florida panthers is loss of habitat. 

Florida panthers are considered an umbrella species. Many plants and animals benefit from its protection and the protection of its habitat. Panthers prowl the same woods as black bear, coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed deer, wild hogs and many smaller mammals. Many varieties of birds, reptiles and amphibians live side-by-side with panthers. Rare tropical plants flourish in the south Florida wilderness where panthers roam. By protecting habitat for panthers, we protect our environmental heritage and health, and provide a wildlife legacy for our children and generations to come.

May 8, 2014

Yuma is growing quickly and continues to be very frisky and healthy. Our veterinarian Dr. Ray Ball, who helped hand feed him as a kitten, visited Yuma at Homosassa State Park to give him his latest vaccinations.  Now 17.7 pounds, Yuma still delights in chasing Dr. Ball.  (That is Dr. Ball’s leg in the bottom photo).

Yuma is out for about 30 minutes twice a day to help educate the public about Florida panthers.  Soon, he will be introduced to a large outdoor habitat that is open to the sky with trees.



April 23, 2014

The Florida panther kitten who spent 7 weeks in the care of the Zoo's veterinary team is settling into his new permanent home at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. He has been given the name "Yuma" by park staff, which is Native American for “Son of the Chief.” Our friends at Bay News 9 filmed him at play. Warning: seriously adorable!

Link to Bay News 9 video:  http://goo.gl/MGhwk3

April 1, 2014

Check out this ADORABLE new video of the panther kitten exploring the great outdoors from our friends at CTTV.

Click here to view the video.

March 26, 2014

This has been a week of remarkable growth for the kitten! Now eating meat exclusively, he weighs over 10 pounds, and has incredibly strong claws. He is becoming a skilled jumper, though he sometimes still misjudges distances. Yesterday he spent some time exploring a whole new world – the great outdoors! At 9-weeks-old, it’s time for him to leave his den (in the Zoo’s veterinary clinic) and begin to venture outside, just as he would have done with his mother.

March 19, 2014

In the last few days, the kitten has successfully weaned from a bottle to a meat-based diet. The young male weighed 2.8 pounds (1.29 kilograms) upon arrival at the Zoo, and is now 7.7 pounds (3.5 kilograms) and growing every day! He continues to progress physically as well, practicing new behaviors like stalking, pouncing and leaping.

March 11, 2014

The 7-week-old panther had is first round of kitten vaccinations today. He clung to his plush pal, a surrogate litter mate, and barely flinched. Brave boy! He’s just starting to sample meat, while still nursing every three hours or so. He is growing every day, now up to 6.5 pounds (3.02 kilograms).  He’s also become much more active, playful and curious -- and has begun to chew, chew, chew on everything.

February 27, 2014

The kitten has become very inquisitive! He is now bounding toward items of interest, instead of just being curious.  He is very active and moves without reservation.  He weighed in today at 4.8 pounds (2.2 kilograms).

February 24, 2014

In a new video posted on YouTube today, the panther kitten can be seen exploring and playing inside the Zoo’s veterinary clinic, receiving a weight check, taking a bottle (including the hiccups that follow) and getting sleepy. As of today, the male kitten weighs in at 4.5 pounds (2.08 kilograms).

February 20, 2014

A rescued Florida panther kitten has arrived at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for neonatal care and rearing. Initial assessments indicate the 4-week-old kitten is healthy and active with an excellent appetite.

The young male weighed 2.8 pounds (1.29 kilograms) upon arrival at the Zoo, and is now 4.1 pounds (1.86 kilograms) and growing every day.

The kitten is currently receiving 24-hour care from the Zoo’s veterinary team led by Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences. In the next few weeks, staff will work with the kitten to wean from a bottle to a meat-based diet. At approximately 8-weeks-old, he will receive his kitten vaccinations prior to transfer to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where he will live.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to provide veterinary support for the wild Florida panther population. The young male is the fourth kitten and eighth panther to receive rehabilitation at the Zoo.

The Zoo has provided a home for a total of six panthers, including current resident Calusa (“Lucy”), a 6-year-old female. In addition to the rehabilitation of Florida panthers, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo has become an active member of the field team for the FWC that captures and tracks panthers with radio collars, and collects biomedical data to provide data to scientists and managers.

Explore and Learn More About The Panther Kitten


See the panther kitten on YouTube!

See adorable pictures of the panther kitten!

Read more coverage from around the world!

Learn more about this endangered Florida species.

Learn more about the native Florida species at the Zoo.

Make a donation to support veterinary care at the Zoo.

 

 
 


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