Wildlife Park gets a 2nd Florida Panther Kitten

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park welcomes a second endangered Florida panther kitten. The kitten, now 7 to 8 months old, is named Sakata. He weighs approximately 35 to 40 pounds. He was found on Monday, January 18, 2016 by employees performing routine field maintenance at the Sakata Research Station in Fort Myers, Florida. The male panther kitten was only 2 to 3 months old when found abandoned and sleeping in one of the fields.

Sakata was rescued and rehabilitated at the Sakata Research Center in Fort Myers, FL, before finding his permanent home at the Wildlife Park in Homosassa. Photo courtesy of Karen Parker of FWC.
Sakata was rescued and rehabilitated at the Sakata Research Station in Fort Myers before finding his permanent home at the Wildlife Park in Homosassa. Photo courtesy of Karen Parker of FWC.

Sakata Research Station employees contacted Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the panther kitten was taken to nearby Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for temporary care until a permanent home could be found for the kitten. The Naples Zoo has a facility for housing injured and orphaned panthers. The kitten who originally was designated as UCFP261, has been named Sakata after the location where he was rescued.

The Research Station allowed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FWC access to the property to see if the kitten’s mother could be located. Their research concluded that the kitten most likely became lost during a rare encounter of two mothers with kittens crossing paths in the field and the kitten attempted to leave with the wrong mother. Unfortunately they did not find the kitten’s mother and therefore were not able to reunite them.

Sakata and Yuma are in the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park's excellent panther habitat.
Sakata and Yuma are in the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park’s excellent panther habitat. Photo Courtesy of Karen Parker, Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC)

USFWS and the FWC worked together to find a permanent home for Sakata as it does for cats that for whatever reason could not survive in the wild. They decided that Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park would be Sakata’s new home. The park is currently home to Yuma, a two and a half year old Florida Panther who was also rescued as an orphan. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park has also been home to other Florida panthers and cougars and has a large panther habitat.