And he's off!
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Naples Zoo are celebrating the successful return of a rescued Florida panther back to the wild last month.
The panther, nicknamed "Logan" by zookeepers, is the fifth Florida panther rescued by FWC and Naples Zoo and the first to be successfully rehabilitated and released. According to a FWC release, the previous four were either too young, or their injuries were too severe to be returned back to the wild.
The large, majestic animal can be seen hesitating for a few moments, looking around, and then, thanks to a little encouragement from one of the keepers, darting out into the wilderness.
Logan, a full-grown adult male, was rescued on December 9 after the FWC received a call that he had been struck by a vehicle. FWC panther biologists responded to the call and transported him to Naples Zoo's Glass Animal Hospital for an emergency health assessment and treatment.
The panther was fitted with a radio collar prior to his release. The FWC uses radio-telemetry to monitor and collect data on panther movement, behavior, reproduction and more.
WATCH: Watch Clearwater Marine Aquarium Release "Wiley," a Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Watch Clearwater Marine Aquarium Release "Wiley," a Loggerhead Sea Turtle
You go, Wiley!
Florida panthers are a federally listed endangered species native to the Southern portion of the Sunshine State. This subspecies of cougar teetered on the edge of extinction as recently as the 1970s. Now, after several decades of conservation, their population has increased to an estimated 120 to 230 adult cats or more.
For more information on Florida panthers and how to help them, visit FWS.gov/refuge/Florida_Panther.