FWC biologists reunite lost panther kitten with mother in Naples

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
florida panther
A lost panther kitten being reunited with her mother by FWC biologists in Naples. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was able to reunite a lost panther kitten with its mother in Naples after a three-day effort in March.

According to an FWC Facebook post, FWC staff learned of a female panther kitten, around four months old, in Collier County that had been separated from its mother. Biologists searched the area for signs of the mother while the kitten was taken to Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for a health assessment. Initially, there was no sign of an adult female panther, so FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists used towels with the kitten’s scent to mark nearby trails in hope of attracting her to the area to reunite her with her offspring.

That evening, the kitten was placed in a cage in front of a livestream camera while biologists waited nearby, prepared to open the cage should the female panther approach the kitten. She didn’t show up. Uncertain if the mother was alive or in the area, the kitten was transported to White Oak Conservation in Yulee for rehab care. The next night, trail camera footage showed a panther walking by the kitten release site and tracks confirmed it was an adult female, so the kitten was transported back to Naples.

Biologists again placed the kitten in a cage where the female had been seen and monitored via livestream camera, but the mother did not return that night. Naples Zoo cared for the kitten during the day and plans were made for a third attempt to reunite the pair. That evening, a female panther approached and immediately showed maternal behavior toward the kitten.

FWC panther biologists released the kitten from the cage, reuniting mother and daughter. The kitten was fitted with a small, temporary, expanding radio collar so biologists could verify that the adult female continued to care for the kitten, now identified as FP264. Telemetry data indicates that FP264 is alive and well, being cared for by her mother.

Added proof came in recently, as trail camera footage captured the pair together one month after reuniting. The kitten’s collar will soon drop off, after which time biologists hope to continue monitoring the pair with trail cameras.

A female panther and her kitten seen one month after being reunited in Naples by FWC biologists. Credit: FWC

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