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Florida Panther



ACEO YBAC Animals-Wildlife Florida Panther is the third of the series I'm doing for this month's Call to Art challenge. I love drawing and painting animals, but Florida Panthers have a special place in my heart since I got to meet one twice in two successive years at NecroNomiCon in Florida. Big Kitty loved a crowd, and was the guest of honor at the con several years running. I got to pet him for a good long time because I donated a lot of art to the fund to raise money to buy a female cub and raise a mate for him. A decade later, I got a postcard from the WWF that showed a Florida Panther cub on a stump... and knew that the cats loved the idea of that fund too, at least they sure contributed more cats to it!

Big Kitty purred. Cougars are the only Big Cat that's capable of actual purring. He also washed my hand starting at the fingers and going all the way up to my armpit, because I did a pastel painting of him during the art auction and handed it up to the auctioneer as soon as it was finished. Good thing I used nontoxic pastels! He gave me this look like "Don't you know how to wash your hands? Let me show you." Plop went the giant dish-sized paw down on my arm, and then the two or three inch wide sandpaper tongue got going. His teeth were over an inch long. His whiskers were gigantic, they spanned wider than my shoulders. He purred while he did it and was very gentle.

At one point during the auction he got bored and went to sleep on the table they had him up on so that people could see him while buying art. He kept sliding toward the edge. His curved back went over the edge, about four inches... five... six... seven... as he neared the point where most cats go over the side and wake up on their backs confused, Bert his handler reached down and grabbed two legs in each hand. Pulled him straight up in the air by all his legs with a big grunt (he was strong, but that's 180lb worth of cat!) and flopped him back on the table.

Big Kitty went on sleeping in the other direction. It was hilarious.

He was calmer about wearing a collar than any small cat I've ever known, and Bert would walk him up and down the halls several times a day. I loved that cat and that con. I hope he's still out there raising funds for the cause and helping repopulate the endangered subspecies of Florida Panthers. The last thing I heard on them was some success at introducing some Texas cougars into their limited gene pool, a drift that's natural and happened repeatedly across their territory but was limited by development and highways for a while.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
baka_kit
Aug. 16th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Awwwww!
robertsloan2
Aug. 16th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Purr thanks. Those moments really stand out in memory. The other was getting to handle and pet snow leopard cubs that were only 8 weeks old, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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