MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Mahala, a beautiful three-year-old Florida panther, now calls Zoo Miami Home.
There she is healthy and safe. But it wasn’t always that way.
“She was actually found in a tennis court in Naples. She was left orphaned her mother who was hit by a car. She brought here and is now the Icon Ambassador for our Florida exhibit,” said Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill.
Mahala is one of the lucky panthers to survive after being injured in 2015. This year alone close to two dozen Florida panthers have been killed and many others injured.
“When they are found injured, panthers are transported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to facilities to be treated and rehabilitated. Previously we had these huge wooden crates they were heavy and very difficult to move the cat around it became a challenge,” said Magill.
But now, thanks to the grant from the Florida Panthers Foundation, they’ve been able to create a new, customized crate for the injured endangered cats to be transported.
“This is less taxing to them, it is lightweight, it has pop-up handles, the doors work great, it improves the safety of the biologists and also safer for the panthers,” said Zoo Miami’s Dr. Frank Ridgley.
“It’s amazing. There are so many applicants for the grant. To be able to go out and see first-hand the money used from the grant to be put to such good use is unbelievable for us,” said Lauren Simone with the Florida Panthers Foundation.
Just like Mahala who was rescued and rehabilitated, their goal with the new crate is to save the lives of other injured Panthers.
In addition to providing the grant for the crate, the Florida Panthers Foundation has also awarded Zoo Miami with an additional grant of $25,000.