A state symbol can come in the form of state animals, mammals, a state bird and flower, amphibians, nicknames, state seals, and much more.
State symbols were adopted by states to best represent them and their historical roots, their geological makeup, their past and present successes, and the ecosystem and habitats that make up the state.
Like all other states, there are many Florida state symbols. Florida’s state animal is the Florida Panther (Felis concolor coryi).
What is the State Animal of Florida?
It was during 1982 when school students in Florida voted on the majestic Florida Panther as the official state animal to represent Florida.
Over the years there has been a lot of misconceptions and misunderstanding when it comes to these beautiful cats.
The main reason Florida panthers were persecuted to the point of near-extinction was because of people assuming they were too deadly to be kept alive.
The Florida panther found itself on the federal endangered species list in 1967, and then it made it onto Florida’s endangered list in 1973. This large predator is incredibly impressive in size, growing up to 6 feet in length.
They also play a huge role in the nation’s ecosystem. Hunting is fortunately now completely illegal, which is great; however, they are losing their natural habitat by the minute, meaning the preservation of Florida’s state animal is totally dependent on public and state support.
How many Florida Panthers are left? Today, there are only an estimated 120 to 130 Florida Panthers left residing in the wild, typically living in swamplands such as Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
They are unfortunately labeled critically endangered, and due to construction, habitat loss, general misunderstandings, and much more, these majestic panthers are faced with some serious issues!
Fun facts about the Florida Panther:
- An adult male will weigh between 106 and 148 lbs (pounds).
- An adult female will weigh between 65 to 100 lbs (pounds).
- They are big cats, with an even bigger appetite, needing between 35 and 50 deer-sized animals each year to survive. Females with cubs to feed will need even more.
- They feed on deer, rabbits, hogs, birds, armadillos, rats, and grass.
- There have been reports in the past of Florida panthers taking on and eating two alligators!
- The females tend to be pregnant for around 95 days and will give birth to 1 to 4 kittens.
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Sunshine State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state animal.