In 1982 the students of Florida elected the magnificent Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi) as the official state animal of Florida. A large predator (can grow more than 6 feet in length), panthers play an important role in the ecosystem.
Florida panthers were persecuted to near-extinction out of fear and misunderstanding (folklore refers to them as "catamounts"). The Florida panther was listed on the federal endangered species list in1967, and on the state of Florida's endangered list in 1973.
Although hunting is now illegal, loss of natural habitat means preservation of this unique animal will depend on strict management and public support.