Panther Kittens Make Public Debut at ZooTampa

Adorable ambassadors of their species make their public debut at ZooTampa!

For a limited time, catch a pair of endangered Florida panther kittens during their daily play sessions.

 

The brothers, named Cypress and Pepper, were rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after their mother suffered from an unknown neurological disorder that is affecting wild populations of panthers and bobcats. The almost 6-month-old kittens have been hand-raised in human care most of their lives, making them unlikely candidates for release back into the wild.

The healthy and energetic duo can be seen playing at ZooTampa daily from 12:30pm-2pm for the next several weeks until a permanent home is identified. Home to 3 other rescued panthers, ZooTampa is a leader in conservation of panthers and other Florida endangered wildlife.

Important information for guests: For a limited time, the kittens can be seen daily from 12:30pm-2pm in their yard in the Wallaroo section of the zoo. Viewing times subject to change without notice. Please check boards at the entrance of the park for details.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does ZooTampa have the Florida panther kittens?

As one of the state’s top facilities for the rehabilitation of endangered Florida species, ZooTampa was asked by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to care for and assist in the evaluation of the kittens while the investigation continues into the neurological disorder affecting panthers and bobcats.

 

When and where can the Florida panther kittens be seen?

Starting Tuesday, December 17 and for the next several weeks, the two Florida panther kittens being cared for by ZooTampa will make their public debut in their play yard located in the Wallaroo section (formerly the singing dog habitat) from 11am-2pm.

 

Why are there keepers in the habitat?

Due to being hand-raised in human care most of their lives, the almost 6-month old kittens are not candidates for release back into the wild. To ensure their future success in a zoological environment, the animal care team is working with the panthers to establish a trust-based relationship.

 

How does the animal care team build relationships with the panthers?

The team builds trust-based relations with the panthers by providing choice-based training and enrichment for their physical and mental stimulation. The animals voluntarily participate in their learning ensuring interactions are positive.

 

Why are they only out for a limited time?

The kittens are primarily being cared for behind-the-scenes. Public viewing times coincide with when the panthers are out on their yard learning with the animal care team.

 

Where do they live when not in their Wallaroo play yard?

The kittens are primarily being cared for behind-the-scenes at our Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital. The team has been able to teach the kittens to voluntarily kennel to travel to their play yard at Wallaroo.

 

How long are they at ZooTampa?

The kittens will be at ZooTampa for the next several weeks until the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identifies a permanent home.

 

Where are they going?

FWC is working to finalize plans on their permanent home.

 

Why are they not staying at ZooTampa and why are they not with the other panthers?

ZooTampa is already home to three panthers that are unable to survive on their own in the wild due to injury or illness.