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FLORIDA PANTHER } Puma concolor

RANGE: Found only in the southern tip of Florida, south of the Caloosahatchee River, though males have traveled as far as northeast Florida in recent years

STATUS: The Florida panther is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and considered Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

THREATS: Habitat loss and fragmentation, collision with vehicles, territorial disputes between panthers, inbreeding resulting from an isolated population, mercury poisoning, parasites, and disease

You’ll never hear a Florida panther roar. That’s because like other cougars, cheetahs, and bobcats, the Florida panther’s vocal cords are too thin to make roaring noises. However, this highly endangered predator can use its delicate vocal cords to purr like a housecat — something lions and tigers can’t do — and being unable to roar like bigger cats hasn’t stopped the Florida panther from developing a wide repertoire of other vocalizations. Besides purring, Florida panthers can mew, chirp, whistle, hiss, growl, and emit a distinct scream known as the caterwaul. Though these incredibly endangered cats were nearly wiped out in the last century, recent conservation efforts have prevented the Florida panther from going silent forever.

Photo courtesy USFWS