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Rare footage shows endangered panther mom leading her cubs to safety: 'What a good mama'

"Such a cool thing to witness."

"Such a cool thing to witness."

Photo Credit: Instagram

How did the panther cross the road? By using a highway underpass!

Video footage showing a panther mom demonstrating to her offspring how to use a safe crossing site was captured by Florida Gulf Coast University, Wings of Hope, and Panther Posse. 

Shared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Instagram (@usfws), the video featured Broketail, a Florida panther that has long been easily recognized by conservationists because of her crooked tail.

Broketail turned 12 years old in March, and she used to take the crossing — brought to fruition by the USFWS and Florida Department of Transportation — with her mother. Now, she is showing one of her many litters how to do the same.

According to the Florida State Parks website, there are 120 to 230 adult panthers in Florida. They are classified as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, making it incredibly important to keep existing populations safe. 

Broketail is one example of successful conservation efforts, as she has produced several litters of kittens through the years to help boost the panther population. 

Infrastructure like this highway underpass certainly helps, preventing panthers from getting struck by cars while moving between habitat zones. It also makes things safer for motorists, too, as they are less likely to suffer an accident.

The video shows Broketail taking her three kittens, who were born in 2021 and have reached dispersal age, through the safe route — though one young cub wasn't quite convinced at the first attempt, jumping around and running in the other direction as its siblings went ahead.

"The kittens in this video were likely overstimulated by the sounds, smells, and sensations of the wildlife crossing — making them excited and jumpy," the USFWS said in the Instagram caption.

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But, sure enough, all of them got through safely, and Instagram users were delighted.

"What a good mama!" one person said. "Such a cool thing to witness."

"More wildlife crossings everywhere PLEASE," another added. "So vital for wildlife corridors and healthy ecosystems in our constantly overdeveloped and fragmented habitats."

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