Popular Florida Panther is Euthanized at Palm Beach Zoo

Colin Patrick, 17-year-old Florida panther (Photo by Keith Lovett)

The Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach Florida has euthanized “Colin Patrick”, a 17-year-old Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) that has been a favorite with zoo visitors throughout his life. Colin was born at the Palm Beach Zoo on St. Patrick’s Day in 1995 and lived in the Florida Wetlands section of the zoo.

Dr. Genevieve Dumonceaux, the zoo’s Clinical Veterinarian said, “Colin was recently diagnosed with a tumor that was compressing his spinal cord in the area between his shoulder blades. This was affecting his ability to use his rear legs and he became unable to walk. Examinations also showed advanced bone disease in the spine. Due to the inevitable progression of this problem and the lack of feasible and effective long term therapies for this geriatric panther, the staff of the Palm Beach Zoo animal department made the difficult decision that Colin should be humanely euthanized.”

“Very few animals in the history of the Palm Beach Zoo have touched the lives of as many guests and staff as Colin,” Keith Lovett, Assistant Director of the Palm Beach Zoo said. “In addition to the important role Colin played as an ambassador for his endangered species, he delighted zoo visitors with his playful demeanor and cunning personality. He will be sorely missed.”

Colin was the offspring of George, a Texas Cougar, and Tayke, a Florida Panther and was hand raised by Palm Beach Zoo staff and volunteers. He was one of only a few animals currently in captivity to have Florida panther lineage. His favorite activity was “stealth stalking” guests, volunteers and staff. His favorite foods were fish and large rodents.

At one time distributed throughout the state of Florida, now most of the surviving animals are found in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Everglades National Park, the zoo noted.

Their habitat is varied and includes swamp, forest and ranchland.  They prefer to feed on wild pigs and white-tailed deer, but will also hunt raccoons, armadillos, and small alligators.

Panthers can reach 6-7 feet from nose to tail; adults can weigh between 70 and 150 pounds, and they can live up to 12 years in the wild, longer in captivity. Colin was 17 years old.

These cats are usually solitary but come together during breeding season. Females generally give birth to a litter of 1 to 4 kittens after a gestation period of 90-95 days. They usually breed every other year, but females will come into estrus sooner if the litter is lost. The young are born with spots that tend to fade after 6 months of age. Young typically nurse for 2 months and will stay with the mother for up to 2 years.

Florida panthers, the official state animal of Florida, are listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In 1993, the population was estimated to be 30 to 50 animals and current numbers are believed to have only reached 100. Radio collar monitoring and camera traps are being used to help save the Florida panther. The main threats to their existence are habitat loss and fragmentation as well as automobile collisions.

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