NAPLES, Fla. -- A week-old panther kitten has been rescued from a wildlife refuge in southwest Florida, and biologists say the tiny feline would have died if researchers hadn't discovered him.
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Thursday the abandoned kitten was found in mid-January at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County.
The male kitten weighed one pound and wasn't responsive. Veterinarians at a Naples animal hospital performed life-saving measures and gave the kitten 24-hour care.
“We want to give any panther kitten the best opportunity to survive in the wild,” said FWC veterinarian Dr. Mark Cunningham in a news release. “But clearly this kitten was in poor condition and almost certainly would have died without intervention.”
When the kitten was strong enough, he was brought to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Eventually he will be taken to a fenced wildlife park in Homosassa Springs.
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Biologists say that because the kitten didn't learn survival skills from his mother, he won't be released into the wild.