COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A family of Florida panthers was released back into the wild this week, marking the first time the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has rescued, rehabilitated and released a group of panthers.
Biologists with the FWC rescued the adult female panther in December after she was struck by a vehicle in Naples. The panther underwent surgery to repair a broken hind leg.
Biologists were able to locate two of the panthers' three kittens by using cameras set up near where the accident had occurred. The third kitten was not located.
The panther family was reunited inside a one-acre pen last month after giving the mother time to heal from her surgery.
Veterinarians determined the panthers were ready to be released to the wild on Monday.
“Typically, orphaned kittens still dependent on their mothers need to be kept in captivity until they can survive on their own,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “However in this case, the mother can continue to raise her kittens, teaching them the required survival and social skills they would not receive in captivity.”