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What’s in a name?


The Florida Panther is in the Cougar family which is referred to by many names including the Puma.


Cougars have been referred to by many names. Traveling near the Everglades in 1513 Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca reported seeing a lion.  Other European explorers believed they were seeing tigers or panthers (a name used for African leopards).  European settlers modified the lion to the mountain lion, a name still used today in the western United States, although cougars inhabit many places other than mountains.  Those in portions of the southern and eastern United States referred to the big cat as “painter,” which is probably a dialect variation of panther.  New Englanders coined the term “catamount” or cat of the mountain.


The name “puma” derives from Quechua Indian language of Peru and means “mighty magic animal.”    


In Florida until the 19th century when “panther” became the most common term, the cougar was referred to as “tiger”.  A famous Indian leader of the Second Seminole War (1835-42) was named “tigertailafter the panther skin he wore from his waist during an Indian ball game.  The name Tiger lives on among contemporary Seminoles and Miccosukees.  In the 1960s Miccosukee leader Buffalo Tiger was instrumental in gaining federal recognition for the Miccosukee tribe.


The Palm Beach Pumas Soccer Academy chose the name “puma” because the name “panther” is overused by sports teams and clubs. Using the name “puma” helps educate the children we work with as an educational tool to explain the differences in the cat family.  The Pumas would like to use their influence to teach children more about Florida’s environment.


You can find more information on the Florida Panther on the following sites


Friends Of The Florida Panther

The Florida Panther Society



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