For First Time, Florida Panther Released Into Palm Beach County

For the first time, an endangered Florida Panther has been released into Palm Beach County.

Not to worry. The wild cat won't be roaming the strip malls or come knocking on your door looking to borrow a cup of sugar.

The 120-pound panther was released into the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area, far from the urban sprawl, where he'll be able to do panthery things with other wildlife.

Florida game officials placed the 2-year-old male panther, who had been rescued as a kitten, into a crate and drove him to Palm Beach County.

Once near the sanctuary, they opened the crate and watched as the panther poked its head out, realized everything was cool, and then darted into the wilderness.

It ran alongside the gravel road for several hundred yards before spotting a gap in the trees and taking off into them.

The panther and his sister were rescued by officials two years ago when they were found near their dead mother in Collier County. They were only five months old when found.

The two were raised at the White Oak Conservation Center in Tulle. There, they were taught how to hunt deer, armadillo, and other animals panthers find delicious, until they grew to maturity and wildlife officials were comfortable enough to set them out on their own.

The panther's sister had been released into the wild earlier.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believe there are about 160 panthers remaining in South Florida.

"To see him run straight like that for such a distance and running free off into the woods makes everything worthwhile," said Dave Onorato, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scientist who opened the panther's crate.

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