Two panthers have arrived at the Palm Beach Zoo and now are on public exhibit.
“The arrival of these cats is an exciting moment for the zoo,” Assistant Zoo Director Keith Lovett said. “Our mission is to inspire people to value and conserve the natural world, and nothing does that better than offering them an opportunity to see rare and charismatic animals that are native to our own region. The Florida panther is considered endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. For over 17 years, we exhibited a Florida panther named Colin Patrick, who passed away in March of this year. He was greatly loved by zoo visitors, and now these kittens, although not born in Florida, will carry on his legacy as ambassadors to raise awareness about the plight of the Florida panther.”
The arrival of the panther kittens will be celebrated Friday evening at a special Safari Night event hosted by Waste Management from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Waste Management is pleased to support the Palm Beach Zoo Safari Nights and welcome the new panther cubs to the zoo family,” said Dawn McCormick, community affairs manager. “As its waste and recycling provider, Waste Management shares the zoo’s commitment to conservation and sustainability practices, and values its longtime partnership with the Palm Beach Zoo.”
The Florida Panthers Hockey Club Street Team will be on hand Friday evening along with a bounce house and games for the enjoyment of the children.
The panther (Puma concolor) kittens came to the zoo through the coordination of the AZA Puma SSP run by the Oregon Zoo, whose critical function is to help rescue and rehabilitate orphaned panthers and place them in approved facilities such as AZA zoos. One of the two cubs now at the Palm Beach Zoo was rescued in Washington State and came to the zoo on April 19 via the Oregon Zoo. The second kitten was rescued in Idaho and came to the zoo on June 28 via the Oregon Zoo as well. The panthers were orphaned when each of their mothers was euthanized as a result of coming too close to human dwellings. The cubs were not discovered until after their mothers were euthanized and each had littermates that were not successfully rescued.
Both kittens are approximately 7 months old; however, the kitten from Idaho is slightly larger (60 lbs. versus 50 lbs.) and darker than the kitten from Washington State, making them easy to tell apart. Palm Beach Zoo staff members have been working diligently to acclimate the kittens to their new surroundings and to build trusting relationships with them through husbandry training techniques.
The Palm Beach Zoo will not have a breeding program for panthers due to the regular need to find homes for orphaned kittens such as these new arrivals.
The Palm Beach Zoo is located at 1301 Summit Blvd. in West Palm Beach. For more info., visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.
Above: One of the panthers that is now on exhibit at the zoo.