Dave Onorato, an associate research scientist with the FWC, actually wishes that Don Juan hadn't been so successful.
"There's a downside to prolific breeding by one male.
From a biologist's perspective, you'd rather have the genetic diversity of six males siring 40 kittens versus one male siring 40 kittens," Onorato
understands that it's not that simple: "These are wild animals, so we can't really just say, 'hey, stop breeding,' but in reality having one animal provide that much genetic input isn't ideal."
Genetic variation has been a struggle for the Florida panther population for the past two decades.
Don Juan was born from one of the eight Texas pumas brought into South Florida in the 1990s to increase the species' genetic diversity.
The gene pool had grown so small that genetic depressions were starting to become apparent.
"We brought in Texas pumas because we looked at historic distribution patterns and at one time the panther ranged across the entire south east," Onorato