An unknown neurological disorder is causing panthers and bobcats to have severe difficulty walking – a threat to their very survival. State and Federal agencies are conducting extensive research including placing remote trail cameras to detect potential cases to move toward a solution. Recently, seven cameras in that study were stolen from Big Cypress National Preserve. Beyond the theft itself, the data from those cameras is forever lost.
To help, Riptide Brewing Company and Naples Zoo are raising funds to replace the stolen cameras with enhanced security models. Riptide is hosting a modified “Brew for the Zoo” event and serving its limited-time brews of Uno Ale and Athena Ale, named for panthers associated with Naples Zoo. This is the first time these custom ales are available in cans. Riptide will donate a generous $5 from each four pack of 16-ounce cans and $2 from each pint sold. Cans are available now and will be on tap for a short time starting Saturday, April 10 at the brewery located at 987 3rd Avenue North in Naples.
As Big Cypress National Preserve is a key habitat for our state’s wild cats, determining the presence of this disorder known as FLM (feline leukomyelopathy) there is critical. Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent Thomas Forsyth states, “Understanding what’s debilitating these animals is like putting together a puzzle without knowing the final picture. Camera trap data represents pieces in that puzzle, and someone just threw a lot of pieces away.” Naples Zoo Director of Conservation explains, “Camera trap theft is a global problem. It’s so prevalent that researchers are not placing the cameras where they will most likely capture the needed images, but where they are less likely to be stolen or damaged.” Longtime Gladesman and hunter Franklin Adams shares why that matters, “Thieves and vandals not only waste precious resources, but also impact research that is used to manage our natural areas. That can impact how people can enjoy nature, which is a negative for all of us, not just the wildlife that we are working to protect and restore.” Anyone with information about the stolen cameras may call or text the investigative services branch tip line at (888) 653-0009 or submit an anonymous tip online at www.nps.gov/ISB. Then click “Submit a Tip.”
“Brew for the Zoo” started at Riptide in 2016 and has been continued ever since. “We’re proud to carry on this tradition – and even more so this year knowing that these funds will be put to immediate use for panthers and Florida wildlife,” states Riptide owner Kim West. Along with the custom ales, Riptide is offering new “Cans for Conservation” t-shirts featuring the stunning logos for both Uno Ale and Athena Ale. All profits from the sale of the shirts will also go to helping panthers in the wild. Additional monies raised after the cameras are funded will specifically help wild panthers through the Naples Zoo Conservation Fund. Naples Zoo and Big Cypress National Preserve collaborate for common conservation goals through a Zoo-Park Partnership for America’s Keystone Wildlife.