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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Collaboration Helps Preserve Endangered Species

Sep 26, 2012 07:31PM ● By Jude Forsyth

Guest curator Honza Vasek, from Zoo Jihlava, in the Czech Republic, working with Dani, the panther.


At the nonprofit Bear Creek Feline Center (BCFC), in Panama City, founder Jim Broaddus has developed methods of collaboration to assure that the center thrives. In addition to the conservation breeding of selected species, feline rescue/rehoming and public education about the endangered felines, he maintains a Keeper Exchange program for national and international curators and keepers. The program permits professional colleagues opportunities to gain experience with the six rare feline species at the BCFC and offers internships for individuals to gain preparatory experience for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission licensing process.

BCFC houses the Florida panther, bobcat, jaguarundi, Siberian lynx, Goeffrey’s cat and African serval. Recently, a Russian zoo gifted Bear Creek with a jaguarundi, but animals are not the only ones making trips. Broaddus and BCFC volunteers regularly travel to the Republic of Panama to orchestrate relocation of confiscated jaguars and pumas to approved U.S. facilities.

The Feline Center depends on grants and donations to house the cats and run the curator program. Broaddus welcomes visitors, explaining, “They always enjoy the experience, and their donations are welcome, as that helps us pay the meat bill.”

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