Biologists surveying for birds at an Everglades restoration project site in Hendry County were in for a surprise when they saw four Florida panthers cross their path.
Holly Andreotta and Brian Garrett, biologists with South Florida Water Management District, and a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist all saw a mother and two kittens near a canal Wednesday morning when a third came out of the bushes.
At first, the kitten appears to be headed toward the biologists, but then it steps up to the edge of the creek and hops over the 30-foot-wide canal.
Two of the four are later seen crossing the road.
According to the FWC website, biologists estimate there are between 100 and 180 adult panthers in Florida. It’s hard to spot them since they’re solitary creatures, but Andreotta said cooler temperatures make that easier.
Andreotta, who took video of the panthers, told ABC 25 News that it’s pretty rare to see a mother panther to have three kittens, who stay with their mothers until they are one year old.
“Yeah, I’m surprised my video isn’t more shaky,” Andreotta told the news station. “At was pretty nerve-wracking, especially as it started walking toward us.”