Behind the Scenes of the Big Cats Episode

May 3, 2022
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A Sneak Peek

Welcome to behind the scenes of our new series, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild! First up is our big cats episode. Here’s a little about where we were, who we worked with and what you can look forward to in the full episode.

You can catch the full episode, Crossing Cougar Country here.

Florida Panthers

Our team ventured down to Florida for our first filming location. We spent our first day filming in Collier County (Naples area) at the Nancy Payton Preserve with a number of local experts and residents.

peter gros and david mizejweski in florida peter and film crew in a jeep

David Mizejewski from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) joined us for this episode, sharing his knowledge as naturalist and speaking about all the work the NWF is doing to help cougars and panthers.

The Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation were also very helpful in making us aware of key points of interest and introducing us to other experts in the area.

david mizejewski and peter gros with meredith from the florida wildlife federation peter gros filming in a field

Here are a few fun facts on the big cats in Florida. Tune in to the episode to learn more and see what Peter and the team tracked while in Collier County and southern Florida.

  • Panthers/mountain lions/cougars are considered an umbrella species. When you protect the panther, you’re protecting all other native wildlife and plants.
  • The Florida panthers are the only puma population east of the Mississippi River.
  • Roads are the greatest threat to panthers. Because of this, several wildlife crossings have been built in Florida. Our team stopped by and filmed in one called the City Gate Crossing.
  • The main home range for a panther is around 200 square miles for a single male.

Los Angeles Cougars

The second half of our big cats episode took us to Los Angeles. We spent a full day filming at Lake Hollywood Park with experts and others involved in raising awareness of the cougars in Los Angeles.
filming near hollywood sign save la cougars hard hat

Actress Julia Butters and hip-hop artist Warren Dickson joined us on this shoot to discuss how those without backgrounds in conservation can get involved and support wildlife in our own backyards.

warren dickson and peter gros julia butters and film crew

Beth Pratt, executive director of the California Region of the NWF, gave us an overview of the legendary LA cougar P-22 and his life living in LA’s Griffith Park. At 12 years old, he had spent nearly all of his life in this park! Pratt then took us over to the location of the future Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in Agoura Hills, California. Some notable facts about the crossing:

  • 14 known cougars will benefit from this crossing. It will support an increase in genetic diversity of the cougar population as well as help all other wildlife in the area cross the 101 freeway safely.
  • This crossing will be the largest wildlife crossing in the world once completed in a few years.
  • The crossing broke ground on Earth Day 2022.
  • All of the work to help save the cougars of LA and the panthers in Florida is highly collaborative between a number of public and private organizations, as well as everyday citizens.

beth pratt filming on la cougars wildlife crossing sign in la

Don’t miss this inspiring episode featuring residents and experts sharing how they’ve helped these big cats and humans live in harmony, working hard to expand these big cat populations that face extinction!

Looking for more exclusive Protecting the Wild content? Check out these other behind the scenes looks here.

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