A rescued Florida Panther kitten is receiving 24-hour care at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. The kitten was rescued on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge after January’s record cold snap. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida discovered the kitten while conducting research. The kitten had a dangerously low body temperature, was non-responsive, and was much too young to be separated from his mother.
The 1-pound (.45-kg) kitten was in poor condition and almost certainly would have died without intervention, so the biologists decided to transport the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples, where veterinarians and staff performed life-saving measures.
See video of the rescued kitten:
His condition improved quickly, though he still requires 24-hour care. Because this kitten was so young at the time of rescue, he did not learn necessary survival skills from his mother and therefore would not survive if released into the wild.
See and read more after the fold.
Although he will not return to the wild population, this panther will help to raise awareness and aid with potential research efforts. Initially the kitten will not be on public display, but once old enough, he will be transported to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where park visitors may observe him.
“This kitten exemplifies how joint efforts of the FWC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners are helping recover imperiled species in Florida,” said Kevin Godsea, manager of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge for the USFWS. “We are certainly pulling for him and hope he leads a long, healthy life.”
Learn more about Florida Panthers here.
See even more photos of the kitten at Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission's Flickr set.