Save the Florida Panther Day is Saturday, March 18

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Saturday, March 18 is Save the Florida Panther Day, it’s a day to remember the endangered state animal of Florida needs our help to thrive in Southwest Florida.

WINK News spoke with Florida Panther and conservation experts to learn how to help protect the endangered species.

Deanna Deppen, the executive director of the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples gave WINK News a very close look at Cimarron, the Florida Panther housed at the sanctuary.

Cimarron arrived at Shy Wolf Sanctuary in late 2010. He is an apex predator in Southwest Florida that can weigh up to 160 pounds with a jaw so strong they pulverize bone.

But Cimarron and Deppen have become just like old friends. They’ll both approach the chain fence and Cimarron will lie down to get some scratches as if he were a house cat.

Deppen wants to ensure the state animal of Florida doesn’t die out in the Southwest Florida wilderness.

“Sad beyond words, it would be heartbreaking,” Deppen said. “And the fact that we allowed it to happen would be unforgivable.”

Over at the Naples Zoo, the Florida Panther Athena is one of the biggest attractions, especially for kids.

So WINK News spoke with Tim Tetzlaff, the director of conservation at the Naples Zoo to learn more about protecting the state animal of Florida.

“Something that’s identified as our state animal, that’s such an icon of our state it’s not something you want to lose,” Tetzlaff said. “By acting together, being smart about it, we can show the rest of the world Floridians appreciate what they have.”

Tetzlaff explained how vital simply obeying panther crossing traffic signs can be to preserving the species.

“Even in a three-mile crossing zone it only adds 60 seconds to your drive. And that one minute for you, could mean a lifetime for a panther,” Tetlaff explained.

Save the Florida Panther Day it’s important to remember that panther crossing signs at night mean the speed limit drops from 60 mph to 45 mph. Simply going 15 mph slower at night when you see that sign can make a difference.

  • Click here to learn more about the Naples Zoo.
  • Click here to learn how to donate to the Naples Zoo.
  • Click here to find out how you can help the Naples Zoo, including the next Brew at the Zoo event benefitting Florida Panthers.
  • Click here to learn how you can avoid getting a $200 ticket while protecting the Florida Panther.
  • Click here to learn more about the Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
  • Click here to learn about the Shy Wolf Sanctuary mission.
  • Click here to learn about ways you volunteer at Shy Wolf.
  • Click here to learn more about Cimarron.

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