Of radio, football and Florida panthers

Feline Center

Two jaguarundis

Photos Special to The Star
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 02:43 PM.


Jeanne Savelle


What does a Florida panther have in common with the New Orleans Saints or with a man who built and sold radio stations? Well, if you have the pleasure of visiting the Bear Creek Feline Center just north of Panama City, Florida, you will meet Saint, the Florida panther who was born on February 7, 2010, the day the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints rose from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina much as Saint is rising up from the near destruction of the Florida panther gene pool. Jim and Bertie Broaddus, who gave Saint his name, founded the Center with resources provided from the sale of several radio stations they owned.

Saint is now four years old and has become part of a breeding program for continuing the gene pool of these magnificent animals. Would you like to see these cats up close? Well, you can! Since BCFC is not a zoo but a habitat for the animals, visitors can see these cats in a more intimate setting than in a zoo. BCFC is open to the general public by appointment only and offers volunteer opportunities as well. The Center, founded in 2000, was grandfathered into the area as Panama City’s environs expanded. But not to worry, these cats are securely housed. Just don’t poke your fingers into any cages!

While Saint remains an ambassador of the Center, a new smaller feline is today taking more of the headlines. A jaguarundi is a small wild cat native to Central and South America, which is believed to have migrated up through Texas and perhaps as far as Florida. Jim and Bertie Broaddus recently raised one of these cats, Yoda, alongside their house cat, Obama. To see Yoda and Obama play is a bit unusual, and it seems Obama gets the upper hand most often. You can read more about Yoda’s upbringing in an article written by Jim for the Feline Conservation Federation magazine in the May/June 2013 issue: Jaguarundi Husbandry: Keep An Eye On Your Coffee Cup!

Apparently little Yoda likes a stiff cup in the morning.

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