Florida, breeding range is currently south of Caloosahatchee River.
Carnivore: deer, other medium to small-sized mammals. Also known to take domestic livestock and pets.
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The Story of Uno, the Florida panther
Young Panther Blinded by Shotgun Is Beneficiary of Cooperative Effort Between Wildlife Officials and Naples Zoo
Naples Zoo created a permanent home for a young Florida panther named Uno that cannot be returned to the wild after it was blinded by a shotgun blast. This new panther exhibit focuses on expanding public awareness of the issues surrounding the growing number of cats in the area. Naples Zoo recently finished fundraising for a new veterinary hospital to provide exceptional care for this cat as well as the many rare species at the Zoo. And to meet the increased need to care for injured or orphaned panthers, Naples Zoo made habitat space to provide temporary care along with an all-new large animal veterinary clinic. This is part of a cooperative effort with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Commission (FWC) to meet their needs in recovering the state’s panthers. Naples Zoo also hosts the annual Florida Panther Festival.
VIDEO: Prowling for Panthers by Odyssey Earth featuring Uno.
Adopt An Animal: The care for Uno is supported through the generosity of Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee. If you would like to support your zoo like this, please call our Director of Development at 239.262.5409 ext 147.
National Geographic photographer visited Naples Zoo in May of 2015 and took the striking image of Uno you see below as part of the Photo Ark project.
Blinded, Wounded, and Surviving on Road Kill
The Florida panther that guests see at Naples Zoo’s new exhibit was rescued by FWC biologists. After surviving a shotgun blast to both the face and hindquarters, the wounded and blinded cat may have been surviving on road kill for up to six weeks before he was found. He quickly received exceptional medical care at the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo where he began regaining weight and health. The panther was named Uno as he was the first animal treated in Lowry Park's new veterinary hospital.
Returning to Health At His New Home
Since arriving at Naples Zoo, Uno finished regaining his weight and health although he remains blind. Initially, he was cared for by the Zoo’s carnivore team in a behind-the-scenes area where he has free choice of inside and outside spaces. “Along with direct observation, we used remote cameras to monitor Uno’s activities during the day and night. While he preferred the indoor area at first, the videos showed him exploring the outdoor area more and more,” explained Naples Zoo’s Director of Animal Programs Liz Harmon. “Given the trauma he experienced, he adapted quickly.” The Zoo’s carnivore keepers trained Uno to sound cues and offer gentle, reassuring tones as they helped to transition him to a life without sight.
Help for Other Injured Cats
As Uno’s story demonstrates, many dedicated agencies and related biologists and veterinarians currently serve to help injured panthers. This new facility at Naples Zoo provides officials with a local facility to act even quicker by providing an alternative to moving cats several hours away in the state – an especially useful option for a cat that only needs short-term observation for a few hours or few weeks.“We’re excited about providing a missing resource like this,” said Naples Zoo President and CEO Jack Mulvena. “We’re also progressing on fundraising for our own new veterinary hospital which will be able to help both larger local species like panthers as well as the exotic species in the Zoo.
Larry Williams, Florida State Supervisor of Ecological Services for the USFWS, agrees, "Florida panther conservation is a team effort. Many thanks to our partners at the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida and the Lowry Park and Naples Zoos for nursing Uno back to health after his injury. Because he can't be returned to the wild due to his condition, we're happy Uno will be in an environment where he'll continue to receive the proper care and attention he needs at the new exhibit, which will help educate people about Florida panthers."
With as few as 20 to 30 cats surviving in the 1970s, Florida panthers once teetered on the very edge of extinction. Several decades of conservation efforts for this federally listed endangered species have resulted in a population estimated between 120 and 230 adult and subadult cats. While still a critically low number for recovery, that growing number does increase the chance for interaction between cats and humans – and as Uno proves, it can be bad for panthers as well as people. Educational components of the new exhibit engage guests in a balanced discussion of saving endangered species and living with large predators. FWC is still investigating the shooting of this panther.
You can help Florida panthers by committing to drive the posted speeds in designated panther zones. Sign up at www.panthercrossing.org and get a color panther crossing decal for your vehicle!