A Florida panther kitten discovered near death on a wildlife refuge has been rescued and now stands a good chance of survival.

The kitten, found in mid-January when he weighed just one pound, was given emergency medical care to stabilize his condition and taken to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for longer-term care.

Today he weighs more than four pounds, appears healthy and displays a good appetite, according to the zoo.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the rescue Thursday, having held off until it appeared likely he would survive, spokeswoman Carli Segelson said.

Biologists conducting research at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge discovered the kitten and found he was dehydrated and suffering from a dangerously low body temperature.

"He was very lethargic, listless and non-responsive," Segelson said.

Unlike other young panthers rescued from difficult situations, this one will not be returned to the wild since he was too young to have learned how to hunt from his mother. When he is older, he will be transported to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park north of Tampa, where he will live.

The zoo is not putting the panther on display. He is being bottle-fed with Esbilac powdered milk replacer.

There was no word on what happened to his mother, but Segelson said there was no reason to think the kitten's mother was not alive. Biologists would have preferred to allow the kitten to grow up and take his place among the state's population of wild panthers, but that did not appear to be an option.

"We want to give any panther kitten the best opportunity to survive in the wild," said FWC veterinarian Dr. Mark Cunningham. "But clearly this kitten was in poor condition and almost certainly would have died without intervention.


Responses to "Biologists rescue week-old panther in Collier County (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Awe! It's so cute, I hope he make it in the wild.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He's a beautiful cat and it is a shame that he cannot be returned to the wild. Once he is in a permanent home, he will be loved by many.

  3. Michelle says:

    This baby was rescued from a wildlife refuge??? And...they wanna return him to another one when he's older...why again? He wasn't safe, clearly, in the first one!

  4. Fili says:

    What a beautiful baby. So glad he was found & taken care of...

  5. Anonymous says:

    pourquoi ne pas porter de gants afin d'éviter qu'il s'habitue à l'humain?

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