It’s a first! Panther family released into wild after rehab stint for mom

It’s a first! Panther family released into wild after rehab stint for mom

Outdoors

It’s a first! Panther family released into wild after rehab stint for mom

A family of panthers was released into the wild in what was called a first for FWC. Photos by © Carlton Ward Jr./Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A panther family was returned to the wild of Florida’s Picayune Strand State Forest on Tuesday after the mother known as FP224 recovered from a broken leg sustained in December when struck by a vehicle.

FP224 and her two male kittens that were also recovered were released one at a time from their cages by officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in what was its first rescue, rehabilitation and release of a family group of panthers, the FWC revealed Thursday.

FP224 was struck on Collier Blvd. in Naples and was taken to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida where its broken hind leg was repaired.

Knowing FP224 had produced a litter of one female and two male kittens, biologists set up cameras to locate the young panthers near the site where their mother had been struck. They found two of the three kittens.

They were taken to the White Oak Conservation Foundation and reunited last month with their mother after she was given time for her leg to mend. The family was placed together in a one-acre pen to “maintain the family bond.”

“Typically, orphaned kittens still dependent on their mothers need to be kept in captivity until they can survive on their own,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “However in this case, the mother can continue to raise her kittens, teaching them the required survival and social skills they would not receive in captivity.”

Veterinarians determined on Monday that all three cats were healthy and ready for release, which was accomplished in the state forest in Collier County and recorded on video.

For FP224, this wasn’t the first time facing rehab. In 2013, she was stuck by a vehicle and needed a rescue and rehabilitation. “In the years between the two accidents, she has produced three litters of kittens, successfully contributing to the Florida panther population,” the FWC said.

Photos by © Carlton Ward Jr./FWC provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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