The Florida panther was all but extinct, but with a little help from Texas and some dedicated individuals, the Florida felines have made a comeback.
Author Craig Pittman details the rise, fall, and rise again not just of the Florida panther, but also the people who were put in place to protect the Florida state animal.
Starting with the slightly unusual story of how the panther came to be the state animal, Pittman follows the plight of the panther and how human development and expansion has taken away the panther habitat and forced the cats to either live in smaller and smaller areas or begin moving into human territory.
Unfortunately it’s not an uncommon story.
But what is surprising is how the people who were put into positions to protect the panther threw them under the bus … almost literally … in favor of money and development. But a few individuals stood tough and fought for the panthers and, as they saying goes, thought outside the box.
Some of the panthers’ plight came not from human intervention but a genetic problem within the breed which was slowly killing them off and preventing them from reproducing healthy litters. Cats, not panthers but in the same large cat family, from Texas were brought in to breed with the panther to restore the genetic line.
Pittman’s style is loose and conversational, full of whimsy and often finding the lighter side of each situation. Sometimes this falls flat or feels a little forced or not appropriate for the situation, but it does make it much easier to read than a dry, academic report – which this could easily have become.
I wasn’t familiar with the plight of the panther, or its comeback, before reading this, and honestly, I found some things quite disturbing – particularly the individuals who, for the sake of greed, will look the other way or hide or falsify reports – essentially condemning an entire species of animal to extinction. This irks me and I have a hard time reading about such things, even in a light, familiar style such as Pittman’s.
Overall, though, I’m glad to have had a chance to read this and learn a little more about the Florida panther and I’d encourage anyone with an interest in non-fiction or nature books, to give this a read.
Looking for a good book? Cat Tale by Craig Pittman tells of the plight of the Florida panther and the hard work by some to rescue the species from almost certain extinction.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther
author: Craig Pittman
publisher: Hanover Square Press
hardcover, 336 pages