Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle To Save the Florida Panther

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jan. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781335938800. $27.99. NAT HIST
Investigative environmental journalist Pittman (Tampa Bay Times; Oh, Florida!) shares the story of the recovery of the Florida panther. In this fascinating, page-turning account, Pittman interviews scientists, veterinarians, and panther experts who were involved in the effort to save the panther from extinction. The team used radio collars to study the panthers’ habits with an eye towards increasing the population. A captive breeding plan failed due to the lack of genetic diversity in the panther population, and the efforts were imperiled by panther experts who presented skewed research results, politicians who pressured state and federal agencies to allow development in panther habitats in order to appease wealthy donors, and supervisors who green-lighted these projects against the recommendations of their own scientists. Eventually, biologists executed a plan that increased the panther population while adding new genetic material.
VERDICT This sometimes disheartening, but ultimately hopeful, exploration of how the Florida panther recovered against the odds will appeal to those who enjoy reading about wildlife and endangered species.

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