The Florida Panther, one of nature's most elusive creatures has a unique home in the southern Florida wetlands. The wild population, now limited to an estimated 100-160 adults, is all that remains of a species that once inhabited much of the southeastern United States. Their lands destroyed, and persecuted by humans, by 1995 there were only about 20-30 panthers left in the wild. Restoration, brought on by human intervention, has successfuly tripled that population in the last ten years.
Tell me about the Florida Panther
Adult male panthers range in size from 130 to 160 lbs and require about 200 square miles of roaming territory - they can travel up to 20 miles per day. Adult females weigh between 70 and 100 lbs and require about 80 square miles of home range. If you would see a Florida Panther, consider yourself lucky! Panthers are notoriously elusive and prefer to be as far from encroaching humans as possible. The diet of an adult consists mainly of white tailed deer and other swamp-roaming mammals, but will venture to the occasional alligator.
Panther/Cougar/Black Panther/Mountain Lion? What Gives?
Panthers are NOT black. All panthers are tawny in color with white under-bellies. Mountain Lions, Pumas, Cougars, Panthers are all names for the same species - divided by name into subspecies due to very specific genetic features. Those "black panthers" that you see in the zoo is actually a black "phase" of a jaguar or leopard. There are no documented cases of a black panther in the wild or in captivity.
How can I help save the Florida Panther?
Education is step #1. Humans and human encroachment are by far the most profound threat to this noble creature. Visit and support the public lands that provide habitat for panthers and become an advocate for protection of wildlife and habitat.