What’s in a name? That is the question that donors Bill and Candy Hamm and John and Amy Phelan had to ask themselves when deciding on the permanent names for the Florida panthers at the Palm Beach Zoo.
The Panthers, nicknamed Washington and Idaho to reflect their states of birth, received new names during a special naming ceremony on Friday, May 8, 2013. Because of their generous donations, the Hamm’s and the Phelan’s had the opportunity to choose meaningful names for the two boys. The Hamm’s decided on the name Osceola for Washington and the Phelan’s chose the name Micco for Idaho.
The meaning of the names Osceola and Micco are based in the history of the Seminole Indians who are indigenous to Florida and have always worked towards the stabilization of the Florida panther population. “Their Seminole names tie the boys to the history of Florida when panthers could be found quite easily – an occurrence conservationists hope to see again” Marketing Manager, Claudia Harden explains. “Sadly, today, there are less than 100 Florida panthers remaining in the wild.”
Both Osceola and Micco were orphaned between 10-14 weeks of age and rescued by the Puma Task Force/SSP based at the Oregon Zoo. Once rehabilitated, they traveled to the Palm Beach Zoo at around 4-5 months of age. This past January, the boys turned a year old, with their birthdays separated by only a few weeks. Although Osceola and Micco are technically cougars, they will serve as ambassadors for the Florida panther and educate visitors to the Palm Beach Zoo for years to come.