Uno has a second chance at life at a Florida zoo.
The Naples Zoo is now home to Uno, a young Florida panther that blinded by a shotgun blast near the Everglades last year. The big cat was rescued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in October, 2014, cared for a the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo before ending up at the Naples Zoo in December, where he is now thriving and on display for the public.
“After surviving a shotgun blast to both the face and hindquarters, the wounded and blinded cat may have been surviving on road kill for up to six weeks before he was found in the emaciated condition,” the zoo said in a statement.
The zoo created a permanent home for the 2-year-old panther since he cannot be returned to the wild. The space will also meet the increased need to care for injured or orphaned panthers.
“Blinded by a shotgun blast Uno was barely alive eating only an occasional road kill,” said Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge. “Thanks to many, Uno now has a beautiful home at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. His exhibit is not only filled with plant life native to Florida panther habitat it even smells like his old home.”
The zoo’s keepers are training Uno to respond to sound cues, are using “reassuring tones” as they help in learn to live with life without sight. He’s being monitored by keepers and remote cameras day and night.
“While he preferred the indoor area at first, the videos show him exploring the outdoor area more and more,” Liz Harmon, the zoo’s director of animal programs said. “Given the trauma he experienced, he’s adapting quickly and moving around very well.”
Larry Williams, Florida State Supervisor of Ecological Services for the USFWS, said Uno’s story will help educate people about the plight of the species.
In the 1970s, there were perhaps 20 to 30 of the big cats in the wild, edging toward extinction. But the endangered species is now bouncing back thanks to conservation efforts. There are now between 100 and 180 cats in the wild.
“While still a critically low number for recovery, that growing number does increase the chance for interaction between cats and humans – and as Uno proves, it can be bad for panthers as well as people,” the zoo said.
Federal officials are still investigating the shooting of this panther.
Photos Naples Zoo