The Kids Are Alright
When our Foundation received a donation to our Florida Panther Fund with an Oklahoma return address, we had to know who was behind it. Luckily, 11-year-old Lillie and her friends Cooper (11) and Archer (8) were more than happy to chat with us.
It started with a makeshift bookmark sale on the corner in Lillie’s neighborhood. But with the rush of Cleveland Elementary school students letting out for the day, the ragtag group quickly pivoted to selling friendship bracelets, lemonade, and snowcones, the latter being their biggest seller in the August Oklahoma heat. They attracted a huge crowd, thanks in large part to their creative signs advertising that proceeds would be donated to support Florida’s dwindling panther population.
“We chose the Florida panther because one: they’re so cute and adorable,” chirped Lillie. “And also because they’re really, really endangered.”
The passionate homeschooler is right; with an estimated 120-230 adults remaining, the iconic big cat population suffers from urban sprawl, disease, and vehicular collisions. Donations to our Florida Panther Fund support research on feline leukomyelopathy (FML) and the rehabilitation of injured panthers.
Lillie’s interest in the species grew from watching one of her favorite TV shows, “Secrets of the Zoo.” In one episode, a Florida panther is rushed to an emergency veterinarian and then follows his recovery. Once stable, the panther is able to jump for a piece of meat, leaving Lillie in awe of the big cat’s strength.
“That was super cool because they jump really high,” Lillie said.
When asked about their future aspirations, Lillie confidently declared that she will be a zookeeper. Archer said he wants to work for the Oklahoma Wildlife Department to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors. His older sister donned a shirt with the words “Go Science!” and mentioned she was working on her math while Archer caught a Dekay’s brownsnake earlier in the day.
Whether in their home state or supporting causes 1,300 miles away, there is no doubt the trio will be leading the charge for future conservationists. You can join them by picking a cause to support today.