AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.
Many species of animals that live in the United States have become endangered. Nine books in the "America's Animal Comebacks" series chronicle this problem and what has been done to keep these animals from becoming extinct. In many cases, the work of one naturalist has been pivotal to recognizing the problem and taking steps to reverse the trends. Biologist Mark Lotz was one of a group of scientists involved in a bold experiment to release Texas cougars in Florida to see if they could survive in the wild. Panthers were once very common in Florida and throughout the southeastern United States. The plan was to see if Texas cougars would breed with the remaining Florida panthers. Inbreeding of Florida panthers had weakened the animals and cross-breeding was thought to be their only hope. In addition to breeding problems, panthers were feared and consequently destroyed because they attacked livestock. The imported cougars were banded so they could be tracked. In 1996, it was determined that the experiment had been successful. Kittens were born to Texas cougars that had mated with Florida panthers. The panthers now live in a wildlife refuge but their future is uncertain. Their biggest threat is the loss of habitat. The text is illustrated with numerous large photographs. An addendum contains a list of panther facts, a glossary, a bibliography, and a list of web resources. Reviewer: Kristin Harris