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Naples Zoo helps injured Florida panther back to health

Last week, FWC rescued a Florida panther that was hit by a car in Collier County. Now, the Naples Zoo has taken on the job of getting him back into the wild.

3-year-old Athena is no longer the only Florida panther at the Naples Zoo. According to the zoo’s animal Programs Director Lee Ann Rottman, she knows it too. “She knows there’s another cat in the building,” said Rottman.

A young male came in just one week after being hit by a car. “He’s one very lucky panther,” Rottman said.

FWC Biologist Mark Lotz says normally, incidents like this result in deaths. “Normally, we see death. It’s rare for a panther to survive an injury after getting struck by a vehicle,” Lotz said.

But this panther was able to hold on, with the help of the zoo’s Glass Animal Hospital. They had never treated a Florida panther before.

“We were able to do full radiographs and a full work up on him with our veterinarian and we were very happy to report that he didn’t seem to have any broken bones or major lacerations,” Rottman said.

Since his injuries aren’t too severe, he could also become the first panther the zoo releases back into the wild.

“When he came in, we weren’t sure what his prognosis would be but he’s giving us every sign that it is possible he can be released,” said Rottman.

The panther now eats and drinks normally. It’ll be up to FWC to decide when he’s going to be released back into the wild. “He’s moving around he does still have an obvious limp but hopefully, that will improve over the next few days,” Lotz said.

This is a milestone for the Naples Zoo.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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