YULEE, Fla. -- Two young panthers who escaped from their pen at the White Oak Conservation Center were safely returned to the pen on Thursday.
"We are happy to report that the two are back safe and sound," said Kipp Frohlich, head of the Imperiled Species Management Section at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "The cats were pursued by panther dogs, darted and moved back into their enclosure."
The brother-and-sister panthers escaped from the pen after winds from Hurricane Sandy knocked a tree onto their enclosure fence, according to a release from FWC.
The two were tracked down by using telemetry on their radio collars. They did not leave White Oak property while they were loose.
Karen Parker, public information officer for FWC, said the two cats were captured when they were five months old. They were found in September 2011 near the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed in northern Collier County.
Kipp Frohlich, head of the Imperiled Species Management Section at the FWC, said, "The two kittens, born in May 2011, were trapped by our staff due to the death of their mother. They were transferred to White Oak Conservation Center to be raised and prepared for release later this winter back to south Florida where they were originally rescued."
White Oak is contracted by the FWC to care for the panthers.
"They are uniquely qualified to raise panthers in an environment that maximizes their chances for a successful re-introduction back into the wild," said Frohlich.
First Coast News