Woman meets a Florida panther during her morning nature walk


On on early morning nature walk we saw a gator, a snake, frogs, pretty birds, and had this unexpected encounter. (Warning...curse word at end!)

Posted by Tina Dorschel on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Florida Sanctuary visitor had an usual sighting while on her morning nature walk.

In a clip from Facebook user Tina Dorschel, a Florida panther runs past visitors on a boardwalk at the National Audubon Society's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.

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"On an early morning nature walk we saw a gator, a snake, frogs, pretty birds, and had this unexpected encounter," Dorschel writes of the video posted to Facebook on Tuesday.

The 13,000 acre sanctuary is home to the endangered big cats, in addition to other native Everglades animals.

Shawn E. Clem, Ph.D., research manager for the southwest region of the National Audubon Society, tells Mashable via phone that such a close encounter between visitors and panthers is "highly unusual." She said that panthers are free to roam the boardwalk, and visitors have reported seeing them in the past.

The Florida panther, she explained, are a subspecies of Puma concolor, andare smaller and more shy than cougars living in other areas of the United States.

But, as Clem explained, the encounter isn't cause for concern.

"I have no concern about panthers in general," she said. "I think any time you go into a natural environment, you're gonna encounter nature, and I think that what we saw from the panther's behavior was actually a really good sign that the panther was afraid of the situation— they don't want to be around people."

On Wednesday, the Sanctuary shared a Facebook post highlighting the clip.

"This gorgeous ‪#Floridapanther‬ seems to have unexpectedly found himself cornered while traveling around a corner on the boardwalk — and quickly sped up to get away," the post reads. "Panthers are shy creatures and this kind of encounter was a lucky and extremely rare experience."

Mashable has also reached out to Dorschel for comment.

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