Yandle, Panthers visit Zoo Miami with SOS Children’s Village
MIAMI – Several Florida Panthers players recently had the chance to get up close and personal with the organization’s namesake as the center Vincent Trocheck and defense attorney Keith Yandle and Mark Pysyk spent an afternoon visiting Mahala, the Florida zoo resident panther.
Mahala, who was orphaned as a kitten after her mother was hit by a car, is one of the main attractions of the brand new Florida: Zoo’s Mission Everglades – a beautiful area funded by the Florida Panthers Community Champions Grant program sponsored by MOSS Construction is presented.
“It’s obviously a beautiful animal, and I just learned that there aren’t many left in the world,” said Yandle. “Getting out of here and seeing Mahala is a pretty cool experience. They just told us the Florida black bear was endangered for a while and now it’s off that list.
“They hope the Florida panther can be removed from the list of people at risk too. Of course, anything helps, especially when you come here and see the exhibit and everything our team does. It’s definitely a long way to go. “
Yandle and his teammates included children from SOS Children’s Village, another former community champion dedicated to caring for orphaned and abandoned children.
In addition to an interactive learning session with wildlife expert Ron Magill and a full trip through the zoo, the Panthers also gave the kids a special goodie bag of toys and hats, which they of course had to sign from Yandle, Trocheck and Pysyk.
“It really means a lot to the children to be able to go on trips like this,” said Emily Stroud, the Residential Manager at SOS Children’s Village. “It helps ensure the quality of childhood that every child deserves. With SOS, we want to bring normality back to normal. Anything we would do for our own children, we do for these children at SOS.
“Knowing that there are other people in the community who care deeply about experiencing new and different things, like today’s view of the inner workings of the zoo, helps these children identify their own talents and interests.”
The Florida panther – the official animal of the state since 1987 – is unfortunately one of the most endangered mammals in the world. As of 2017, an estimated 150 to 200 people are living in the wild.
As an umbrella species, the Florida panther protects many other plants and animals that live in southern Florida. At the top of the food chain, panthers not only keep the numbers of wild boars in check, they also keep deer, raccoons, and other populations balanced and healthy.
However, as their natural habitat continues to shrink, motorists, especially those driving through so-called “Panther Country” – State Road 29 and Alligator Alley (I-75) – encounter these animals at an alarming rate. resulting in numerous panther deaths in Florida.
“We are working closely with government agencies and regulators to make sure these animals are protected and to educate people to understand them,” said Magill, who promotes environmental efforts around the world. “There is an old saying that goes: ‘We protect, we love. We love what we understand. We understand what we are taught.’ The goal of the zoo is to teach people why these animals are important. “
Magill said the zoo’s partnership with the Panthers has helped fuel new conservation efforts, including the construction of a special state-of-the-art shipping crate, educational workshops and informational billboards that are currently being installed in the heart of Panther Country .
“That opened a lot of doors,” said Magill of the Community Champions program. “It has enabled us to bring kids from schools here to the zoo and give them a great look at these animals and plant them the seeds of why it is important to take care of these wildlife. Then we find through things like Banners and brochures open up new ways to connect people with these animals. “
A key pillar of the organization’s founding, the Florida Panther has long been considered more than a mascot for its hockey peers. The animal’s characteristics such as strength, pride, and territorial behavior shape the team’s rich culture.
As a thank you, the Panthers are hosting their third annual Panther Conservation Night at the BB&T Center on Saturday March 24th, where fans will not only learn more about the animal, but also how to raise awareness while playing the game.
“The Florida Panthers Foundation is thrilled to be supporting the protection of the panthers as one of the foundation’s four pillars,” said Lauren Simone, executive director of the Florida Panthers Foundation. “As our namesake, we believe it is very important to raise awareness of the Florida panther and the plight of the panther, and to do our part to preserve it.”
For more information on the Panthers and their support for NHL Green Month, please visit HERE.