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Panther Update


Sept 2007 -- Dying Panther Kitten Gets a Second Chance

By Deb Jansen (Big Cypress National Preserve)

In July, 2007, Big Cypress biologists found four kittens, with one of the females weighing less than 2 pounds, in very poor condition. Knowing the kitten would most likely die, they sure wished they would have stuck her in their pocket and taken her home. FP150, the Mom, returned to the saw palmetto thicket den about 14 hours after the biologists had gone and chose not to move the kittens from the area. Two weeks later, the biologists returned to change the battery in the den monitoring box and take another peek at the den.

What a surprise to find that same poor little kitten...or was it her? They scanned her back for the unique numbers of the transponder chip, which had been previously slipped under the skin of each kitten. It wasn't that original smallest kitten after all, but the healthiest of the females handled on July 20! It was K255 and she had lost 40% of her body weight, was lethargic, wounded, and alone.

After consultation via cell phone with Dr. Mark Cunningham, FWC's veterinarian, the NPS biologists did slip this ailing kitten into their "pocket" and took her "home." She was transported to Dr. John Lanier, of Golden Gate Animal Clinic in Golden Gate City, FL. Dr. Lanier, no stranger to panthers, has helped the capture of teams for many years. He gave fluids and antibiotics to the kitten, stitched up an open wound on her head, and monitored her carefully over the weekend. A few days later, kitten #255 got a plane ride to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, thanks to pilot Ralph Arwood.

Now, a month after leaving Big Cypress, she is growing and getting "feisty," according to her keepers there, who named her Calusa and call her "Lucy" for short. Given the extent of human care she needs, she may become too used to people to be returned to the wild.

This panther kitten is not the first to be removed from the wild, but raises the question of when one intervenes and when one "lets nature take its course." Panther experts are now preparing a protocol for such situations.

Kittens of FP150: FPK 253, 254, 255, & 256. July 20, 2007.
By Ralph Arwood

K255(Lucy) near death at the den, August 3, 2007,

Ralph Arwood


Dr. Lanier with Lucy that afternoon,

by Ralph Arwood


Lucy Recovering at the Lowry Park Zoo,

by keeper, Angie Jones