In the 1970s there were only 20 left in the wild. Today the numbers are a bit higher, but still critical, with scientists thinking there may be 160 of them remaining.
So any close encounter with a wild Florida panther is a truly incredible thing.
Tina Dorschel’s video:
On March 30, 2016, Tina Dorschel was out for her daily hike on the boardwalk at the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary north of Naples. She saw “a gator, a snake, frogs, pretty birds” and then this fine fellow scampered by, losing his footing as he tried to accelerate past her on the narrow boardwalk.
Thankfully for us all, Tina was able to film the 15-second encounter.
Phil Hendra’s close encounter:
Within the past month, another Facebook user posted his close encounter with another Florida panther, this time in East Fort Myers. Phil Hendra was at his father’s house when the sighting occurred. Hendra’s son spotted the animal first, but didn’t realize it was a rare panther. Hendra’s son instead told him to go and take a look at the “funny dog” sitting out on the porch.
Hendra said “It stayed for about 20 minutes and laid down for a bit. It looked at us inside the window then slowly walked away and we have not seen it since. My parents have lived here since 1988 and they may have seen a younger panther about two years ago, but nothing compares to this once in a lifetime experience.”
The Florida panther is such a beautiful animal. Let’s hope that their numbers continue to increase.