Updated on November 29, 2023

Whether you call it a cougar, panther or mountain lion, you’ve probably heard of these big cats. The Wild Kingdom crew traveled from coast-to-coast in search of the nation’s experts in big cat conservation. These experts, as well as local residents, are working to ensure cougars and humans can live in harmony.  Check out how folks in Florida and California are helping big cats as the species faces extinction.

Florida panthers

Our team ventured to the Nancy Payton Preserve in Collier County, Florida, 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 to share his knowledge as a naturalist and to speak about all the work the NWF is doing to help cougars and panthers.

The Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation were also helpful in making us aware of key points of interest and introducing us to other experts in the area. Learn more about the conservation work happening in the Florida wildlife corridor..

david mizejewski and peter gros with meredith from the florida wildlife federation

Here are a few fun facts on the big cats in 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 the City Gate Crossing. Read more about these crossings in this article from the Florida Wildlife Federation.
  • The main home range for a panther is around 200 square miles for a single male.

Los Angeles cougars

We then traveled across the country to see what’s happening on the West Coast with big cats. We visited 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 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 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 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

While organizations like the fStop Foundation, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation are helping big cats in the wild, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) members are working to care for rescued mountain lions in their facilities.

One AZA facility doing so is the Oakland Zoo, which cared for mountain lion cubs Hazel and Holly. Read Hazel and Holly’s inspiring story. And discover how the Oakland Zoo is helping other mountain lions now and for years to come.


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