Wildlife
3:04 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Panther Adopted Out By Dying Owner Now At Palm Beach Zoo

Twelve-year-old Mirasol the Florida panther finds a new home at the Palm Beach Zoo.
Credit Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society

It's not unusual to find a Florida panther among the other "big cats" in a typical Florida zoo.  But the Palm Beach Zoo's new arrival is one with a poignant history.

The 12-year-old Florida panther named Mirasol -- nicknamed "Mira" -- is in quarantine at the Palm Beach Zoo and will be seen by visitors starting next month. 

Mira had lived virtually her entire life at the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Homestead. But when its founder was diagnosed with a terminal illness, he contacted state wildlife officials to help him find homes for his animals.

Wildlife officials, in turn, reached out to the Palm Beach Zoo. General curator Jan Steele says the fact that Mira is a "pure" Florida panther is exciting.

"It allows us to show the differences between the western cougar or puma -- and the Florida panther," Steele says.  "And just how amazing Florida wildlife is."

Zookeepers say Mira is very affectionate with humans, an indication that she was well loved and cared for in her last home. She has a number of health problems, including a curvature of the spine. But zoo staff says she's doing well. 

The zoo has also changed its name to the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society. Officials there say the re-branding is being done to highlight the work the zoo is doing to protect animals from the threat of extinction.