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Lone Star cats rescue cousins in Sunshine State

Introduction of Texas panthers to Florida boosted genetic diversity of local population, report says

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3:03pm, September 23, 2010

Plenty of people hated the idea in 1995, but borrowing some genes from Texas has improved prospects for endangered Florida panthers, a new report says.

Hybrids of the Florida cats and cousins of the same species from a wild-caught Texas population have twice the genetic variety and far fewer of the genetic defects that were known in Floridian panthers before the introduction, says geneticist Warren Johnson of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md.

Now panthers of mixed-state background live about twice as long as the pure Floridians do. Thanks to the genetic infusion and other conservation measures, the adult panther population in Florida has tripled, J

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