Riptide Brewery teamed up with the Naples Zoo over the weekend for their annual Brew for the Zoo event, raising money and awareness for the endangered species.
For centuries, Florida Panthers like Athena roamed the south without fear like kinds of the countryside, but a lot is different now.
“They used to range all the way up into the Carolinas and all the way to Texas, but right now we’re covering around a population of a little over 200,” Chris Johnson, the general manager of Riptide Brewery, said.
According to Riptide Brewery, with fewer than 300 panthers left in the Southwest Florida wilderness, Riptide Brewery hosts Brew for the Zoo to help out the state animal of Florida. At Riptide Brewery, $2 from each pint of Athena or Uno Ale sold goes directly toward conservation. And you make a $5 donation by buying limited edition four packs.
Johnson believes the success of Brew for the Zoo is based on how passionate the customers are about panther conservation.
“Because of their interest in this event, we’re able to do more to help our panthers in the wild and just bring awareness to wildlife in general. And how important protected areas of Southwest Florida are,” Johnson said.
Kaia Bravo has a passion for wildlife, conservation, and the Florida Panther. I talked to her at the bar about the event and why she wants to protect the panther.
“Wildlife and habitat conservation is a cause I believe in, and I try to be present at community events in support. It was lovely to see how many people attended. Knowing that others also want to see protection efforts for Florida Panthers makes me feel like there’s hope,” Bravo said.
The money goes to a number of projects, but primarily to raise awareness among motorists to slow down in designated Panther Crossing areas, and judging from the turnout at Saturday’s event, many people in Southwest Florida support that.
“I think protecting panthers is important because they play a role in the ecosystem, and when their population is threatened, it affects the whole system,” Bravo said.
Since the event began in July 2016, it raised thousands of dollars to protect Florida Panthers. Riptide’s best year was when they raised nearly $14,000.
“Human expansion/development is a huge factor in habitat decline and risk to animals,” Bravo said. “I think we have an obligation to be mindful of our impact and to act responsibly.”
When I asked Johnson how he sees the event growing in the future, he explained what his goal is.
“Honestly, I’d just like for more people to be aware of panthers in general,” Johnson said.
When I asked him if he’d like more people to attend the event, he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“I don’t think anymore can fit,” Johnson said while laughing.
Click here to learn more about the Brew for the Zoo event and how you can help Florida Panthers.