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Florida Panther transferring her kittens between den-sites

One of the first photos ever taken of a #Florida #Panther transferring her kittens between den-sites.
8:25 AM Mar 23 2013

Stashed in: Florida!, Florida, Panthers!

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The population of Florida panthers hit a low of about 20 individuals in the 1970s... they're back up to 100 - 150 now, so mama panthers are important!

20 Florida panthers?! The Florida Panther NHL team has more individuals.

Are they bred in captivity or are they wildcats?

They're wild!

A single wild population in south Florida of 100-160 adult panthers is all that remains of a species that once ranged throughout most of the southeastern United States. (See the Statement on Esitmating Panther Population Size for info on how this number was reached.) This remnant breeding population is in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Dade and Monroe counties. A few males have been documented in central Florida, but no females are known to be in that area.

The Florida panther was eliminated over much of its historical range by the late 1800's by human persecution and habitat destruction. Because the panther was geographically isolated in south Florida, no natural gene exchange occurred with other puma subspecies. Inbreeding caused a decline in the health and reproduction of the few remaining panthers. By 1995, only 20-30 panthers remained in the wild. That year, eight female Texas cougars were relocated to south Florida to restore genetic variability to the population. All offspring of the Texas cougars are considered to be Florida panthers. The genetic restoration of the Florida panther was successful and the number of panthers tripled in 10 years.

Florida panthers are still quite rare. It will take many years to replenish the population.

Are there any at the Jacksonville Zoo?

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