TAMPA, Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is caring for two orphaned Florida panther kittens whose mom was euthanized after suffering from a mysterious neurological disorder that has been plaguing Florida panthers and bobcats across the Sunshine State.
The kittens are being cared for at the ZooTampa in collaboration with the BluePearl Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida and the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The FWC continues to investigate the mysterious neurological disorder recently detected in some Florida panthers and bobcats this year.
The affected animals exhibit varying degrees of rear leg weaknesses that lead to difficulty in walking.
To date, the FWC has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat through necropsy.
Trail camera footage has captured nine panthers (mostly kittens) and four adult bobcats displaying signs that may be consistent with this condition.
In July 2019, the FWC viewed video footage from a trail camera in Collier County that showed the Florida panther mom exhibiting symptoms associated with this condition.
The panther had the two young kittens that likely would not have survived in the wild. FWC staff removed the kittens for observation and testing.
FWC trail cameras subsequently documented that the panther mom’s health was deteriorating, and in October 2019, the decision was made to remove her from the wild.
After a thorough examination, FWC decided to humanely euthanize the panther due to the animal’s poor condition and the unlikelihood of recovery or improvement.
“We appreciate the support of the public and their concern for these kittens, who just received their latest examinations in a series of kitten checkups (just like a pet cat would receive),” FWC said in a Facebook post.
“While veterinarians cannot predict to what degree the kittens may become affected, they are currently active, playful, and healthy overall.”
Photo credit: BluePearl Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida