Zoo Contact: Tim Tetzlaff
Voice: 888.520.3756
e-mail: Tim@NaplesZoo.com

Refuge Contact: Larry Richardson
Voice: 941.353.8442 ext. 24
Fax: 941.353.8640


Distributed February 2001

For Immediate Release

Save the Florida Panther Day 2001

March 31 at Caribbean Gardens

For every family that joins the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge,

The ZOO in Naples will donate on Free Adult Admission

The Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge is celebrating the fourth annual Save the Panther Day on Saturday, March 31st hosted by Caribbean Gardens: The Zoo in Naples. The Friends and the Zoo are raising awareness for the Florida panther. One of the nation's most endangered mammals, only 60-70 panthers survive, living primarily within Collier, Broward, Hendry and Lee counties in South Florida. During special Panther Day presentations, guests will learn the latest information on Florida panthers and how they can help.

Guests to the zoo on Save the Panther Day will meet Larry Richardson, wildlife biologist for the 26,000 acre Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County. During two special presentations by the zoo's cougar exhibit, Richardson will personally share the latest on panther recovery efforts, demonstrate some of the science involved with tracking and protecting these elusive cats, and let guests in on conservation efforts that the public can participate in. Richardson will also be appearing at the zoo's multimedia Safari Canyon presentation to show wildlife images taken on the refuge including panther photos taken by remote cameras purchased with funds from a previous Panther Day at the zoo.

"Awareness by the public is critical for the survival of the Florida panther," explains Richardson, co-author of Florida's Unsung Wilderness with a forward by Jane Goodall. "You cannot save what you do not know. Managers and biologists can't do it alone. It takes service organizations like Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge to go beyond the fieldwork. They bring the conservation message to save the panther into the classrooms and the boardrooms. And we need more Friends." Those joining the Friends at the zoo on Save the Panther Day can be part of that mission.

Caribbean Gardens is again offering visitors one free adult admission to the Zoo (a $14.95 value) in exchange for the purchase of a $15.00 family membership to the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge. Members of the Friends receive a quarterly newsletter and have exclusive opportunities to participate in refuge projects and other events throughout the year. Membership also provides funding research and management projects on the FPNWR as well as panther education projects, one which involved over 6,000 Collier County students this past year. "I am personally excited about the possibility of involving even more new people in the protection of this beautiful cat, " stated Nancy Jane Tetzlaff, CEO of Caribbean Gardens: The ZOO in Naples and an advocate for conservation since the 1960s. "The panther's cousin, a cougar, introduced me to my lifelong love of wild animals and I hope this upcoming day will again do the same thing for many others."

And protecting panthers protects us. Jim Krakowski, Refuge Manager for the FPNWR, explains, "The panther is our barometer for the health of the South Florida environment, which includes humans. The panther is an animal of the wilderness; it requires vast stretches of undeveloped land to survive. These same lands provide habitat to many other plant and animal species, soak up the 55+ inches of rain we receive each year, purify and recharge our drinking water aquifers, and provide abundant recreational and ecotourism opportunities. The loss of the panther and panther habitat will in turn result in greater flooding of our developed communities, greater expenditures to produce drinking water through purification and desalination, loss of dollars to the economy, and the general degradation of our quality of life in South Florida." You can learn more about this and the panthers at the Friends web site at www.floridapanther.org.

Tim Tetzlaff, the zoo's vice-president of education, points out, "This is a great opportunity for new and established residents of southwest Florida to learn from a true expert like Richardson about this large mammal that shares our land. Of course, we hope that once the community sees how important the panthers are to the area, they'll get more involved so everyone benefits. And that's why we're encouraging membership in the Friends again this year. The refuge needs funding for projects, but so many people don't even know the panthers are out there and at great risk, let alone there's a refuge right here in the county. Friends members help get that message out."

Caribbean Gardens is a 52-acre botanical and zoological garden located in the heart of Naples at 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road. In addition to the historical plantings dating back to 1919, the garden features a variety of animals from apes to zebras including the big cats. A variety of innovative presentations are offered all day including the live animal/multimedia presentation known as Safari Canyon. Small colonies of monkeys, lemurs, and apes live in natural habitats on the islands visited by the Primate Expedition Cruise. The zoo ticket box office is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the zoo grounds close at 5:30. This special offer is not valid with any other offer or zoo membership.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a digital photo of a Florida panther or the Caribbean Gardens, please contact Tim L. Tetzlaff by phone at 614.478.3756 or by e-mail at tim@caribbeangardens.com

Caribbean Gardens 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road Naples Florida 34102 ZooLine: 941.262.5409 www.caribbeangardens.com

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If you are a member of the media and would like to receive future releases, please e-mail Tim Tetzlaff at tim@caribbeangardens.com

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