The Cats Meow.
Florida has some of the most beautiful wildlife, and we proud to be able to showcase that beauty. Perhaps one of the most beautiful, is our resident Florida panther, Calusa, or Lucy for short. While extraordinarily beautiful, Lucy is one of the few of her kind left in the world and is a great representation of her species. Her steel blue eyes note every movement around her and her ears swivel to catch every sound. Sometimes, she will crouch low in a stalk position and become invisible as she waits for the right moment to silently spring to attack an unsuspecting watermelon given to her. Other times, she is content to hold court on her raised platform, serenely watching guests walk by.
How did Lucy come to the Zoo? Lucy was one of 4 kittens born to a panther being observed by Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission biologists. When Lucy’s mother moved dens, the biologists checked the old den only to find a tiny kitten with a severe head wound. Once they were certain the mother was not coming back, the biologists took the kitten from the den and brought her to the Zoo where she received all the critical medical care she needed to recover and thrive.
Due to being hand-reared by people, Lucy has no fear of humans and was determined she could present a danger to herself and the public. Watching her reminds us of the power of nature. She also shows us how fragile life in the wild can be. Lucy embodies the hope that her species and ours can find a way to share this world.
Lucy’s newest roommate came to the Zoo in a similar fashion. Micanopy was found close to rural communities and eating domestic pets. After being brought to ZooTampa for health assessments, he was relocated to a different area. However, Micanopy was exhibiting the same pattern of behavior, frequenting residential areas and preying upon pets. For his safety, and the safety of the public and their pets, it was decided that ZooTampa would be his new home.
Following another round of check-ups, the animal care staff started introducing Micanopy to Lucy. After some hesitation at first, the two panthers have found a groove and can be seen in their habitat in the Florida area of ZooTampa.