When you live in a suburban area it can be easy to forget that, when it comes to animal life, human beings aren’t alone in their surroundings. No matter what part of the world you live in, there are animals native to that region—and it’s inevitable that you’ll run into them at some point.
Sure, a well-built house can keep you safe, and wild animals aren’t often drawn to well-lit and heavily trafficked areas, but that doesn’t mean they won’t wander. After all, animals are known to migrate in search of better food sources or shelters.
Florida resident Phil Hendra was reminded of this fact one day when he got a surprise visit from a truly shocking guest on his front porch. He could not process that what he was seeing could possibly be real… and you’re about to see why.
When Florida resident Phil Hendra was about to step outside to see what was driving his dogs so crazy, he couldn’t believe his eyes. His dogs had been barking all morning, and up until then, he’d chalked it up to bad weather or passing traffic.
He couldn’t have been more wrong. Once he took a peek outside to investigate, his jaw fell to the floor. It wasn’t traffic bothering the dogs at all—it was a Florida panther! He backed away to grab his camera so he could capture the crazy encounter.
Meanwhile, the big cat seemed to be enjoying her break. That, or she was admiring Phil’s landscaping. At one point, Phil had a moment of panic when the noise from his clicking camera caught her attention. The last thing you want to do with an animal this size is to capture its attention… or annoy it. These big cats can grow up to seven feet long and they are not to be messed with. How would this panther react to her unwanted paparazzi?
Thankfully, the panther didn’t seem bothered. In fact, she hunkered down on the porch Phil shared with his parents and stayed for about another 20 minutes. Why she chose this particular porch was anyone’s guess. Maybe she just appreciated the view!
Then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the panther bid adieu. Phil and his parents hadn’t seen her since. For all this Florida family knew, this affable panther is still keeping an eye on their comings and goings from day to day. One thing was for sure: she wasn’t all that she seemed to be.
Though the wild feline that made an appearance on Phil’s parents’ porch is officially a Florida panther, its name is actually misleading as these animals aren’t technically panthers at all. They are, in fact, cougars; this particular breed of cougar is native to Florida.
Unlike other members of the cougar family, the Florida panther earned the distinction of being named Florida’s state animal in 1982. Who knew they were so political? Not too shabby for a big cat… not too shabby at all.
In 2013, researchers filed reports stating that there were just 160 Florida panthers still living in the wild. While this is a pretty small number, it’s much higher then it was in the 1970s, when only 20 were thought to be alive out of captivity!
It’s really rare to spot a panther in the wild, let alone on your back porch! We guess that’s Florida for you!
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