This is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a Florida Panther in the wild.
Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge President Tom Trotta and his wife Deb were out with biologist Mike Owen in the Fakahatchee Strand when a rare Florida panther emerged from the woods and started walking towards them. The cats are extremely rare – there are less than 100 of them left in the wild.
The trio had their camera rolling when the seldom-seen panther walked towards them. The big cat stares down the camera as it saunters in ever so close to the photographer. Watch how close it got.
Florida Panthers were added to the US Endangered Species List in 1973. Human development, feline diseases and over hunting were some of the main factors that led to their endangerment. Wild Florida panthers are found in the swamplands of the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve.
The US Fish and Wildlife service operates the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge – a 26,400 acre preserve near Big Cypress National Preserve.
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