Orphaned Panther Kitten Finds New Home at Naples Zoo
The cat was far too young to have survived for much longer in the wild
Start this rhythmic chant with me: PAN-THER! KIT-TEN! PAN-THER! KIT-TEN!
(Okay, now keep that going while you read.)
Sassy, a 4-month-old Florida panther kitten orphaned when her mother was killed on U.S. 41 in October, is a survivor. She lived over a month on her own at a much younger age than baby panthers typically do.
Eventually, workers at the Collier-Seminole State Park tipped off Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation biologists about the little panther. They tracked Sassy down, captured her Nov. 2, and brought her to Naples Zoo.
Florida panthers are endangered, and biologists have documented 35 panther deaths in 2015, 24 of which were killed on roadways.
Sassy is a scant 18 inches long and is slowly adjusting to her surroundings. She chirps, hisses and plays, when she’s not hiding. “She’s trying to figure out where she is and where mom is, probably,” Liz Harmon, the zoo’s director of animal programs, told the Naples Daily News.
Sadly, hope is running out for Sassy’s surviving sibling (another member of the litter was found dead), also too young to fend for itself.
Sassy herself will never be released into the wild. Orphaned too young to be able to be reintroduced, her best hope is for a zoo to adopt her. There are no geographical restrictions to that offer; Sassy might be the first Florida panther to be displayed at an out-of-state zoo.
“They’re survivors,” said Harmon. “These guys know how to make it through.”