NAPLES (CBSMiami) – A female panther and her two kittens are back in the wild after spending months in captivity.
The mother panther suffered a broken hind leg after being struck by a car in December 2017 in Naples.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther team rushed to rescue the female panther and locate her kittens. After a successful surgery at Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples, the trio of panthers went to White Oak Conservation Foundation for a few months so the mother could recover from her injuries, while keeping human contact at a minimum.
The male kittens were kept separate from them mother so her leg had time to heal. The trio was reunited in a 1-acre pen in
March to maintain the family body.
On April 10, the FWC released the panther family back into the wild on the Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County.
“Typically, orphaned kittens still dependent on their mothers need to be kept in captivity until they can survive on their own,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “However in this case, the mother can continue to raise her kittens, teaching them the required survival and social skills they would not receive in captivity.”
This marks the first time the FWC has rescued, rehabilitated and released a family group of panthers.
This particular mother panther is quite lucky because this was her second rescue by FWC. A vehicle also struck her in 2013.
In the years between the two accidents, she has produced three litters of kittens, successfully contributing to the Florida panther population.