NAPLES, Fla. -

A Florida panther rescued as a kitten has been released in forest near Naples.

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released the female panther Thursday in the Picayune Strand State Forest.

Wildlife officials rescued the panther and its brother in Sept. 2011 in Collier County after their mother was found dead. They were raised at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee since they were 5 months old. The male panther remains at the center.

Darrell Land is the commission's panther team leader. He said Friday that the female panther was healthy and had "grown to a size that should prepare her for life in the wild."

The Florida panther is an endangered species. Officials estimate there are around 160 adult and sub-adult panthers in South Florida.