Tampa, Florida -- A rescued Florida panther kitten has arrived at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for neonatal care and rearing.
FWC says a team of panther biologists rescued the approximately week-old kitten at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County in mid-January while there conducting research. At just one pound, FWC veterinarians say the male kitten had a dangerously low body temperature and was non-responsive.
"We want to give any panther
kitten the best opportunity to survive in the wild," said FWC veterinarian Dr.
Mark Cunningham. "But clearly this kitten was in poor condition and almost
certainly would have died without intervention."
Biologists took the
kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples, where
veterinarians and staff performed life-saving measures. Although his condition
improved quickly, he still required 24-hour care.
Once he was strong enough to travel, biologists took him to Lowry Park Zoo.
Zoo officials say initial assessments indicate the now four-week-old kitten is healthy and active with an excellent appetite. They are happy to say the little guy who weighed 2.8 pounds when he arrived at the Zoo is now 4.1 pounds and growing every day.
PHOTOS: Rescued panther kitten rehabbing at Lowry Park Zoo
The kitten is currently receiving 24-hour care from the Zoo's veterinary team led by Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences. In the next few weeks, staff will work with the kitten to wean from a bottle to a meat-based diet.
At approximately 8 weeks old, he will receive his kitten vaccinations. Because he was so young at the time of his rescue, and did not learn survival skills from his mother he will be transferred to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where he will live.
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