Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alicia's Eyes on Wildlife - Florida Panther

Alicia's Eyes on The Big Cats.

Okay - let me start off by saying, I have witnessed the experiment in my psychology class about eye witness accuracy. My professor was talking, someone comes in to interrupt, then leaves. My professor continued lecturing as if nothing happened. A half hour later, he asked us what the person who interrupted us looked like. It was hard to remember. Was she wearing a white shirt or a white jacket? Was her hair brown or dark blonde? Glasses or no? Most people got it wrong.

Now, I know I have an excellent memory. My friends are always impressed and somehow stupefied with the things I can remember. It is kind of freakish, but I look at it as an asset. I'm quite proud. I got the eye witness test right. Nailed it!

However, and this is a big HOWEVER, I am not sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw a Florida Panther at our hotel in May. I remember it clearly. Jess and I were standing on the balcony and we were looking at the ground towards the pool. This is a great site to people watch, but that morning we didn't see people, we saw a BIG CAT sauntering down the path and disappearing under the porch.

The first thing I did, after making sure that Jess saw what I saw and I wasn't hallucinating from the heat, was call the front desk. The woman who answered seemed to be familiar with said cat although she didn't offer specifics. When I said, "I know this sounds insane, but I just saw a cat the size of a labrador walking from the pool under building 3." Her reaction was more of a 'bummer' than 'this girl is bonkers.' I truly admire southern politeness, but this was a stretch - even for the south. I had the distinct impression that she knew what I was talking about and what I had seen.

So Jess and I started doing research. What we saw was large and tan with a black tipped tail. So far so good. No pointy, furry ears which would indicate a bobcat. Panthers' habitat can be wetlands or drylands. They are good swimmers and can go from wet to dry easily, but they prefer cover or woodlands. So, maybe it wasn't a panther? Also they are estimated to be very endangered. So what would they be doing at a resort in Florida? I know we all need vacations, but I started to think my love of Friday Night Lights and Coach Taylor's Panthers caused my mind to create visions. I started doubting myself.

And then I went online and found this website. Right under this picture (which is very similar to the cat we saw) were these words - This "Palmer Ranch Panther" has been determined to be a panther by a professional wildlife photographer that photographs panthers. Last sighting of the Florida Panther was in 2010 but it was only 19 miles away from our hotel. I think that it's entirely possible that my panther friend could have walked up the beach and found a nice and cozy home under the resort's porch.

What do you think? Did Jess and I see a Panther or were our eyes playing tricks on us.

To help protect the big cats - watch this.


  1. Saw one along side the road to Naples many years ago, casually twitching its tail, like it was waiting for us to go by before crossing. They are running out of room, so I believe you. And I'm thanking God it was alive and well!

  2. for a swimmer, it's not that far for a cat (who knows how to hide) to Myakka State Park.
    See, it's not all alligators!!!!!

  3. Not all alligators! And way cuter and therefore oddly not as scary:)

    Thanks, Becky!