Photo by Ralph Arwood
Florida's Big CatScroll to learn more
Big Cats—Little Population
Florida’s biggest cat—the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is a subspecies of the cougar.
The Florida panther is the most endangered animal in North America, with a surviving population of about 150 in the wild. Nearly a third of them use Big Cypress National Preserve as their main habitat.
Puma, mountain lion, catamount, and painter are other names for "cousins" of the Florida panther in other parts of the country.
Big Cats Need Big Space
A male's territory spans about 200 square miles. As their population density increases, more panthers fight—to the death.
Panthers roam and often cross roads. Watch for panthers. More than half of the known Florida panther deaths each year are from being hit by vehicles. (Photo by Peter Matthews)
Females need dense saw palmetto thickets to give birth to litters of 1 to 4 kittens. (Photo by Ralph Arwood)
Panthers need forests to find their food like deer, feral hogs, alligators, and raccoons, but they don’t typically climb trees. When researchers track panthers with hounds, the panthers often try to escape into trees. (Photo by Ralph Arwood)
"…The Florida panther is like the polar bear of the South. Because of its low-lying and exposed habitat, the panther is extremely vulnerable to global warming."Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club
Big Hope for the Future
At one point, there were fewer than 30 Florida panthers, but now there are an estimated 150. The National Park Service and other agencies are working to bring these big cats back from the brink of extinction. Take a peek into this panther den, and see some of the kittens that symbolize hope here at Big Cypress.