Tag Archives: bear creek feline center

Panther Encounter Makes Wild Wishes® Come True

Reannah Hollaway was hesitant to put the piece of raw chicken in her hand.

“It feels gross,” she said.

But as she brought the chicken toward the fence and a Florida panther gently took it, a big smile came across her face.

“Wow, I just fed a panther!”

Lauren Scott was up next and was blown away the Florida native cat not only took the food but gave her a “high-five”.

Lauren gets to feed a panther with the help of Bertie Broaddus.

“Amazing,” she said.

These encounters were part of a special Wild Wishes® project at Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

A Florida panther named “Thatcher” checks out the visitors at Bear Creek Feline Center.

Wild Wishes® grants wildlife encounters for children who have a terminal or critical illness or have lost a parent or sibling. It’s a project of Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® based out of Pinehurst, TX (Orange area).

Since 2014 the organization has granted 92 of these wishes and also works with children in the foster system and families who have children struggling with various issues.

“This was a very special encounter because these two girls have been part of our program for a year and a half. They are both volunteering as interns this summer, and this was the big send-off before college classes begin. We have been teaching them how to promote wildlife conservation, and this is an incredible inspiration for them,” said Lisa Moore, co-founder of Wild Wishes® and Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center®.

The other co-founder, her husband Chester is an award-winning wildlife journalist and said the story here is the ability to learn about wild cats so intimately.

“These girls got to interact with Siberian lynxes, Florida panthers, bobcats and servals and each time Jim and Bertie Broaddus educated them about these great animals and their place in the wild,” Moore said

“Since coming into our program Reannah changed her major to wildlife conservation and Lauren is getting an education degree to become an elementary teacher. We believe they will have a major impact on wildlife and wildlife education in the future and a catalyst for that will be these experiences.”

Bear Creek Feline Center is one of the few facilities in America to house jaguarundis.

Sometimes called the “otter cat” because unusual, low-profile look, these cats were of particular interest to the girls and they spent extended time photographing them.

One of the jaguarundis at Bear Creek Feline Center.

“The photos will be used for future writings and social media activity where we will not only mention this great facility but also the conservation status of jaguarundis, which is a bit mysterious. We think featuring them will be an engaging way to educate people about wild cats in the Americas,” Chester said.

Safe, interactive wildlife encounters are crucial to inspiring people to appreciate wildlife and become advocates for species and habitat conservation.

“We’re appreciative of our partners at Bear Creek Feline Center for helping us take our mentoring program to a new level and for in a big way make Wild Wishes® come true for some special young ladies,” Lisa said.

In a technology-driven world where man seems to get more disconnected to nature by the day, opportunities like this can cause one to pause and ponder Creation.

Sure, the girls might have been taking cell phone photos of the cats and posting to Instagram, but they exposed people to wildlife in inspiring fashion in the process.

That’s a win for wildlife and young people facing challenges alike.

To connect with Bear Creek Feline Center click here.

 

 

America’s Great Cat Finds A Home

Cougar.

Mountain lion.

Panther.

Those along with puma, catamount and ghost cat are all regional names for what science calls Puma concolor.

This is America’s great cat of the Sierra Nevadas, Florida swamps and Texas brush country and last week a very important one found a new home.

Craig DeRosa brought his cougar “Takoda'” on a 19-hour trek to Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

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Takoda checks out his new home at Bear Creek Feline Center.

Takoda has served as an ambassador for the species, having appeared on national television and also as a loved companion to his owner.

It was however time for this cat to make a home among others of its kind and serve out the rest of its days inspiring thousands of annual visitors to the facility.

“We’re excited to have this beautiful cat here at Bear Creek Feline Center,” said founder Jim Broaddus.

“Cougars are such an exceptional beauty and representative of wildness and Takoda is quite a striking cat. He fits right in.”

This facility has taken in many cats, some well cared for like Takoda and others not so much. While they have been a refuge for cats in need of a transition from different private captive settings, the key here is education.

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Bear Creek Feline Center is home to the super rare Florida Panther.

“When people see a cat like this in a safe and intimate setting it moves their heart. People can see their grace and beauty and then we can help teach them how important they are to the ecosystem,” Broaddus said.

Along with servals, Siberian lynx, bobcats and jaguarundis, there are cougars from several subspecies including the highly endangered Florida Panther.

“There is a lot of diversity among cougars and they inhabit everywhere from Canada to Argentina and a lot of people don’t know that. We are glad to educate people and when we have a chance to take in these animals it helps to make it real to the public. There is something special about seeing these cats in person,” Broaddus said.

My life at age 14  was changed when I saw a cougar making its way over a rice levee in Orange County, TX.

At a distance of only 10 yards, we locked eyes for a moment and many years later that is a feeling I cannot shake.

And I do not want to.

In its eyes I saw wildness and have spent my entire professional career trying to communicate to the general public how important wildness and wild animals are-in large part due to that encounter.

As Takoda walked out of his transport enclosure into this spacious new home, I saw a familiar gleam in its eye.

It reminded me of the cat I saw so many years ago and made me excited for its prospects representing its kind-the great cat of America.

Chester Moore, Jr.