Judy Berens founded Panther Ridge in 1999. Today she provides a home to nearly two dozen such animals (as well as numerous barn cats and horses). Most of them are rescued from threatening situations in which they had been abused, abandoned or neglected. Panther Ridge’s custom-built facilities are among the finest in the world, providing the cats with native-like habitats, protection from the elements, ample rule to roam, stimulation, and daily attention to their medical needs.
Once a cat is accepted by Panther Ridge, its needs are met for the rest of its natural life; never again will it be in need of a home, or be at risk of neglect or mishandling. Such a lifetime commitment is challenging – and very costly. For example, the cats at Panther Ridge consume some 100 pounds of meat and supplements every day. Many also have chronic health problems that require continuing veterinary care. What’s more, as the number of abandoned, neglected or abused animals continues to grow, we feel an urgent need to expand our facilities so that we can help more animals, while still maintaining our high standards.
Panther Ridge relies heavily on contributions from corporations, individual patrons and veterinary facilities.
In addition to sheltering exotic cats, Panther Ridge is both an education and research facility. School groups are able to visit, interact with, and learn about endangered species in an intimate experience that few zoos could ever replicate. Panther Ridge also works cooperatively with other conservation centers around the world; shares information about the cats’ nutrition, medical care, breeding and behavior; and helps to raise money for the protection of big cats and their habitats. Panther Ridge is accredited by the Feline Conservation Federation and the USDA; and is permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Panther Ridge Conservation Center applied for 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation status in 2003, and is registered with the state of Florida under the Solicitation of Contributions Act. A copy of the official registration (# CH15293) and financial information may be obtained from the Florida Division of Consumer Services by calling 1-800-425-7353 (toll free from within Florida). Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the state of Florida.
About Judy Berens
Judy Berens, founder and director of the Panther Ridge Conservation Center, has been fascinated with animals her entire life. A graduate of Vassar College with an MBA from the University of Miami, she became a highly successful equestrienne for many years.
It wasn’t until she reached her mid 40s that she was able to pursue her goal of working with exotic cats. This effort ultimately led to the creation of Panther Ridge.
In the early 1990s, Judy had the inspiration to become legally licensed to own an exotic pet. She pursued the permit process for 18 months and, when finished, chose an ocelot as her first cat. That first cat, Sabrina, helped Judy begin a journey of learning and personal growth that now encompasses a family of 18 cats and eight species.
Over the years, Judy and Panther Ridge have expanded their mission to include interest in worldwide conservation with an emphasis on endangered species.