Guest article by Susan Strawbridge, Park Services Specialist
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park has announced that “Yuma” is the name selected for the Florida Panther kitten that will be make its home at the Wildlife Park. “Yuma” is Native-American for “Son of the Chief.” Over 100 names were submitted by park staff and visitors. The four most frequently suggested names were then voted on by Park staff. The kitten’s name was announced by Park Manager Kim Tennille at Saturday’s Earth Day Celebration at the Park.
Back in January, the approximately seven-day old kitten was rescued by biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County. The one-pound male kitten was found in a matted down area of sawgrass and was nonresponsive with a dangerously low body temperature. Biologists determined that the kitten was in very poor condition and would not survive without intervention. The decision was made to rescue him and bring him into captivity.
The kitten was immediately transported to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples where veterinarians and staff performed life-saving measures to treat him for dehydration, malnourishment and raise his body temperature. Once he was stable, he was transported to Lowry Park Zoo for further rehabilitation and vaccines. While in their care he continued to improve, gaining weight and strength.
On April 3, 2014, the Florida Panther kitten was moved to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where he will make his home. The kitten was kept for the first few weeks in the Felburn Wildlife Care Building so he could acclimate to a new environment and the wildlife care staff. Now at approximately 13 weeks old, he weighs about 15 pounds.
The kitten can be seen, weather permitting, at a distance during the Wildlife Encounter programs. These programs are held daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. He will eventually be introduced into the Panther habitat.
Park Focuses on Native Plants in April
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will be focusing on native plants and Florida’s orchids during the month of April. The Park is introducing monthly themes featuring natural and cultural resource opportunities in Florida State Parks.
A program on Florida’s native plants will be presented by Jim Bierly of the Citrus County Native Plant Society in the Children’s Education Center. Bierly was the founder of the Citrus County Native Plant Society and served as a Past President of the Citrus County chapter. He has had a life-long interest in natural history.
He will bring examples of native plants and will have a slide presentation on Florida’s native plants. This program will be held in the Children’s Education Center on Thursday, April 24, 2014, starting at 10:00 a.m. Park admission is $13 per adult; $5 for children ages 6 through 12; and free for children age 5 and under. This includes an all-day visit to the Park.
As a Florida State Park, the Park’s current focus is on our native plants and animals.
For more information or to register to attend, please call Susan Strawbridge at the Park office (352) 628-5445, ext.1002, Mondays through Fridays.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
10:00 a.m. until 12 Noon
At the Children’s Education Center
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446
Presented by Parks and Recreation
Bicentennial Park Pool 8145 Bicentennial Park Drive, Crystal River, FL 34429
Bring Your Own Basket!
There will be two Egg Hunts for different age groups:
Children ages 1- 6 hunt from 11:00am - 1:00pm
Children ages 7 - 12 hunt from 1:00 - 2:30pm
Eggs are turned in after the hunt in exchange for a gift bag filled with little toys and candy
Only 50 people at a time will be permitted onto the pool deck.
While participants wait their turn, there will be food for sale and festivities outside around the pool grounds such as potato sack races, egg races, arts ‘n craft stations and much more.
This year there will be a separate land base egg hunt outside of the pool area designed especially for little children ages 0 - 3 or for those who cannot swim.
For information on the Citrus County Parks & Recreation progams please call 352.527.7540 or visit our web site at CitrusCountyParks.com