ORLANDO, Fla.- Two Florida panthers celebrated their ninth birthdays at Gatorland today.
Neiko and Lucy, a brother and sister pair, are a cross between the extremely endangered Florida panther and a Texas cougar. Shortly after birth at a Florida rescue and rehabilitation center in 2006, the pair were adopted and raised in the loving care of a Florida conservationist until their arrival at Gatorland.
To celebrate, they received a protein packed cake was hand created by the animal care department. Each of the weighed roughly 20 pounds and included beef, chicken and pork.
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The Florida Panther is an endangered subspecies of the American cougar and is the only cougar population east of the Mississippi River. This stealthy predator once ranged through all of Florida to northern Georgia and the southern parts of Tennessee, and as far west as East Texas. The only breeding population now exists in a small area of southern Florida in portions of the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
Panther Springs spans more than 2,000 square feet, and houses a waterfall, napping ledges near guest viewing areas, and a state-of-the-art husbandry center.
“Neiko and Lucy are perfect ambassadors to help educate our visitors on the peril of the Florida Panther,” states Mark McHugh, President & CEO of Gatorland. “The fight to save this species is ongoing, and our efforts to showcase their mystique and beauty will encourage our guests to support further conservation efforts to protect North America’s largest cats.”
Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve. The park opened as a roadside attraction in 1949. Today, it's home to thousands of alligators, crocodiles, an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, educational wildlife programs, and more.
To find out more about Gatorland visit www.gatorland.com or call 1-800-393-JAWS.