Friday, March 9, 2012 at 9:40 a.m.
Colin Patrick the Florida panther
Keith Lovett / Palm Beach Zoo
Update, 12:25 p.m.:
The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter says it has six panthers in captivity
on its website; waiting for a call back to confirm, but it looks like there are some options to check them out in captivity after all.
The only A panther in captivity in South Florida has died, according to Palm Beach Zoo officials.
"Colin Patrick," a 17-year-old cross between a Florida panther and a Texas cougar, was euthanized Wednesday evening after developing chronic problems that kept him from being able to walk. Born on St. Patrick's Day in 1995, he was more than 50 percent older than panthers typically get to be in the wild.
"It is a big deal," zoo spokeswoman Gail Eaton said of the panther's advanced age. "He was a very geriatric animal."
Zoo Assistant Director Keith Lovett described the panther as "an ambassador for his endangered species."
"Very few animals in the history of the Palm Beach Zoo have touched the lives of as many guests and staff as Colin," he said in a release. "He will be sorely missed."
After the number of wild Florida panthers dropped to almost zero in the 1970s, there are around 160 today
, according to MSNBC.
Eaton said the highways cutting through the panthers' habitat is a leading cause of their reduced numbers, saying, "They just get killed all the time."
If you're really itching to see a panther, Eaton said to trek to either the Jacksonville Zoo or Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, on the gulf coast.