HOMOSASSA – Throughout April, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service will celebrate the first anniversary of Yuma’s arrival at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This past weekend, the wildlife park celebrated the anniversary with more than 2,500 visitors who attended the park’s Earth Day Egg-stravaganza.
Park staff will highlight Florida’s Big and Little Cats including Florida panthers and bobcats.
- Park staff will present Yuma during the Wildlife Jeopardy program on Saturday, April 11 from noon to 12:30 p.m. in the Park’s Discovery Center (formerly called the Children’s Education Center). This program is presented by Barbara Cairns.
- The Florida’s Big and Little Cats program will be presented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s panther biologist Jennifer Korn on April 17 at 1 p.m. in the Florida Room of the Visitor Center on US 19. There is no charge to attend this program.
- The Wildlife Puppeteers will present a puppet show on Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. The puppet show is entitled “Yuma, Son of the Chief” and tells the story of our rescued Florida panther and stars Yuma, a Florida panther puppet.
- Visitors have the opportunity to “adopt” Yuma for a $20 donation to the Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. The adoption packet includes a certificate, photos of Yuma and his story. Learn more about adoption kits online, here.
Yuma (meaning “Son of the Chief”) arrived at the park on April 3, 2014, as a three-month-old panther kitten. He was found barely alive on Jan. 23, 2014, by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists who were checking on the den of female panther in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Naples. The kitten had apparently been abandoned and was dehydrated and non-responsive. The kitten received emergency care at Animal Specialty Hospital in Naples and rehabilitative care at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Since he could not be returned to the wild, Yuma has been given a home at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where he serves as an ambassador for his species.
Now, almost 15 months old, Yuma is a healthy and active panther weighing about 80 pounds. He lives in an 8,500 square foot landscaped habitat with its own rock-bordered pond, bushes, rocks and logs to climb on. He has become a favorite of park visitors who can easily observe him in his habitat from the Wildlife Walk.