Panther Rescue, Rehabilitation & Release
Orig. Story 5/13/13

A homeowner leaving for work Monday morning saw a panther kitten dragging its rear leg. When he returned to his home in the Golden Gates Estates area of Collier County and saw the panther a second time, he notified law enforcement. FWC panther biologists and officers, deputies with the Collier County Sherriff’s Office and staff from the Golden Gate Animal Clinic responded to the area where the panther was last seen. The rescuers found the 9-month-old female panther in thick brush, and they quickly began their efforts to save her. After sedating the young panther, an on-scene assessment of her condition was performed. After the exam, FWC biologists transported the panther to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida. Veterinarians at the hospital determined that the panther had a compound fracture in her right rear leg, rib fractures and bruising around the lung which were likely caused by a vehicle collision. When they performed surgery, a steel plate was used to mend the bone together. With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the panther was taken to the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee where she will receive care until she has fully healed from her injuries and is ready for release. Staff at White Oak noted this morning that although she appeared to be sore, the panther was walking and putting weight on her legs. Thanks to the help of the homeowner and our partners, this young panther has a good shot at being returned to the wild. There are only 100 to 160 adults and subadults remaining in South Florida, so every panther plays an important role in the population. The rescue and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned panthers are funded by Florida panther license plate sales. To help the efforts to save Florida panthers, buy a plate at To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

UPDATE 12-5-13: On the mend
Rehabilitation is going well for a young female Florida panther rescued in early spring with a broken leg from an apparent collision with a vehicle. The panther was rescued after she was seen dragging her rear leg by a Collier County homeowner in May. Veterinarians at the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida performed surgery to mend the break and provided other initial care. A month later, while rehabilitating at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, the panther aggravated the break, and a second surgery took place at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine to re-set the bone. Since then, the panther has steadily improved, and in October, she was moved from a half-acre pen to a larger, 10-acre enclosure at White Oak after veterinarians confirmed her leg was in good condition. Because the plan is to release her back into the wild, human contact is kept at a minimum. Recent trail camera photos show the now more than one-year old panther is very active and moving well, and we hope to release her back into the wild early in 2014.
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