It was announced last week that a 1 week old panther kitten was found alone, frail, and dying in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County back in January. A group of researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida found the kitten very lethargic and weighing just 1 pound. They knew this little one wouldn’t survive without intervention.
“We want to give any panther kitten the best opportunity to survive in the wild, but clearly this kitten was in poor condition and almost certainly would have died without intervention.” – Dr. Mark Cunningham, FWC news release
The kitten was taken to Naples for triage care at Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida, and then, once strong enough, moved to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for longer term care and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, because the kitten was just 1 week old when found, he will be completely raised by humans and will not be releasable. He won’t have the benefit of his mother teaching him to hunt and survive. In the wild, a young panther would stay with its mother for a year and a half to two years. This means that the kitten will never gain the skills to survive in the wild. There are only around 80 to 100 Florida panthers remaining, making them one of the most endangered mammals.
Check out this video of his progress. Such a cutey!