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New Study Shows Florida Panther Breeding Program Helped Rescue Endangered State Animal

Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A new study shows that a breeding program that paired endangered Florida panthers with Texas pumas likely has helped save the official state animal from extinction.

The study shows that genetic diversity in offspring from the Florida panthers and Texas pumas has tripled, alleviating the threat of physical defects related to genetic inbreeding.

Bob Fitak of the University of Central Florida is a co-author of the study. He says the 1990s breeding program was among the first of its kind.

“So not only does this help Florida panthers, but we now have a better understanding for the future for genetic rescue in other endangered species. And this now is happening throughout the world with these protected animals.”

The Florida panther is the most endangered of the state symbols with a population of between 120 and 230 animals, up from 20 or 30 before the breeding program.

The study appeared in the journal, G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.
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