Florida Panthers at Gatorland.
Florida Guide > Other Parks
Gatorland is a very good value but rather more low key park that is located on the Orange Blossom Trail. Of course, this park is mainly about the alligator and indeed they have thousands of this much maligned creatures. However, in addition to the 'gators and the odd crocodile there are two adult cats, Neiko and Lucy are Florida Panther/ Texas Cougar crosses!! The siblings were born in captivivity in 2006 and have been raised by an expert until they were able to be re-housed in this park.
The Florida Cougar is the only cougar found east of the Mississippi River and were once prolific in Florida. However, a combination of heavy hunting and the urban sprawl saw their numbers fall to around 20. This saw the 20 survivors inter breeding and this caused genetic problems. The solution to all this was to outlaw hunting the panther and to introduce the Teaxas Cougar to strengthen the bloodline. Twenty good females were introduced to Florida and the result has been a rise to somewhere between 100 and 160 living in the wild. The panther population is centered on The Everglades, The Florida Panther Natural Refuge and The Big Cypress National Preserve.
So now back to our twins. The reason for introducing the panther to this park is part to entertain the public but also to educate us about this still very much endangered species. Gatorland have spent $200 000 on an enclosure for these very handsome beasts. There are platforms, lots of shade and a pond. Best of all, there is a sheet of glass to provide a safe close up view.
Neiko is a show off and his sister somewhat more laid back. I am informed they have a dislike of the colour red and cowboy hats!
Of course they are nocturnal creatures and mainly get active at night but it is still a priveledge to see these graceful creatures close up.
As well as the gators and panthers there is also a petting zoo and aviary. Best of all you can zip line here.
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail
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