Panther kittens rescued in Fla.
After mother succumbs to neurological disorder, veterinary experts work collaboratively to investigate and rehabilitate endangered feline species.
Ateam of veterinary and wildlife experts led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is caring for a pair
of endangered Florida panther kittens orphaned after their mother succumbed to an unknown neurological disorder affecting panthers and bobcats. The
kittens are being cared for at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, a facility that is heavily involved in the rehabilitation of this endangered Florida species, according to
a release from the zoo.
“We appreciate the support of the public and their concern for these kittens, who just received their latest examinations
in a series of checkups,” says Lara Cusack, DVM, veterinarian at FWC’s Research Institute, in the release. “While veterinarians
cannot predict to what degree the kittens may become affected [by neurological disease], they are currently active,
playful and healthy overall.”
In July, Florida FWC trail cameras in Collier County caught sight of the kittens’ mother, a radio-collared panther, struggling
to walk. With her young kittens unlikely to survive in the wild, FWC removed them for observation and testing. Their mother’s health deteriorated
and she was humanely euthanized. Experts hope the mother’s necropsy results and extensive diagnostic testing will help experts determine what’s causing
The kittens were first cared for by Marc Havig, DVM, DACVS-SA, CCRP, and Ashley Ayoob, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, veterinarians with Animal
Specialty Hospital of Florida, a BluePearl facility in Naples, Florida. “These vets initially cared for the kittens when they were first picked up by FWC,” says
BluePearl representative Laura Fourniotis. The kittens are now being housed at ZooTampa’s Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital. Once they’re out
of quarantine and receive health clearance from the medical team, the zoo plans to place them on public view where they can serve as ambassadors
for their species. The kittens will remain at ZooTampa until a permanent home is identified.
IMAGES COURTESY OF BLUEPEARL