Man spots rare Florida panther in driveway of home in The Villages

Like most Central Floridians, Bob Hubbard has seen a lot of wildlife in his time, but he says he’s never seen anything like what he saw on Valentine’s Day morning.

His automated security camera sent him a motion alert. When he checked the photograph it sent, he was amazed to see a Florida panther in his driveway at a home in The Villages.

"I've never seen a panther before, so I had to do a little research and make sure it wasn't a bobcat, or something," Hubbard explained.  "Bobcat's have short tails, panthers have long tails."      

The big cats are among the most endangered on the planet.   The National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) estimates less than 100 are left in the wild, which is why this sighting is so rare.   They are typically found in southern Florida in swamplands such as Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.

"Why would they be in The Villages? They love it like everybody else!" Hubbard said with a laugh.

According to the NWF, Florida panthers are skilled hunters -- like most big cats -- but they will settle for sifting through people's trash cans if they have to, which may be how Hubbard ended up with the surveillance shot of a lifetime.

"I am very fortunate, very fortunate," said Hubbard.