MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A panther, rescued by biologists as a kitten along with her brother, was discovered to have given birth to a “healthy and feisty” kitten just a few months after her release into the wild.
Biologists found the approximately one-month-old female kitten Saturday near where the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released the female Florida panther on January 31, 2013, according to FWC.
Once the kitten was discovered, she was evaluated and tagged for identification purposes and to see whether she eventually becomes a part of the adult population.
“We were very excited to find this panther’s kitten,” said Dave Onorato, FWC panther biologist. “The fact that this panther has given birth is positive news for the recovery of this endangered species and a testament to the hard work of all involved in its rescue and rehabilitation.”
It is estimated that the female panther was about 21-months old, about three weeks after her release, became pregnant. According to biologists and FWC documentation, her age is younger than the typical age of first conception for female panthers.
The panther was released within prime panther habitat therefore, her giving birth wasn’t completely unexpected, but biologists are encouraged that the panther they raised in captivity became a contributor to the population so quickly.
There is an estimated 100 to 160 adult and subadult panthers remaining in south Florida.
The female panther, along with her brother, was rescued in September of 2011 after their mother was found dead. Her brother was released in April.