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                             THE STORY OF CORYI   

 

Charles Barney Cory was well known for his collection and study of birds, curator of zoology at the Chicago field museum, and a pioneer on the study of American mammals.

 

In the late 1890's Mr. Cory came to Florida in search of one of the States most illusive creatures - a swamp screamer!

An animal that has inspired many a tall tale..

 

 

A party of men had camped on the eastern side of Florida, in a wilderness area south of Lantana. Charles Cory, John Davis his guide, and three other men, rose early one humid morning, they ate breakfast, and with Davis accompanied by his 6 baying hounds, they headed out on horseback for a days hunting in Florida’s swampland.


During the day the men split up. Davis and another man led by the dogs found what they were looking for and gave chase. Trying to get away from the yapping hounds the animal sprang into a tree, she looked down on the men from her perch. Davis then shot her in the hind feet, hoping to prevent her from jumping down so that Cory could get his photo, but she did jump, and ran further into the woods, that till today had always given her protection. The hounds once again were on her tail, she sought temporary shelter under a fallen cypress where Charles Cory found her hiding, because he could not get a clear picture, he ended her life with a bullet. They pulled her out from under the tree, and carried her to the edge of the Cypress swamp. It was there that Cory took his photo of the tawny ghost; he also took measurements and notes on the creature they had captured. 

 

Today we know Cory’s tawny ghost as none other than the Florida Panther. Charles Cory had listed the panther as a sub species of the cougar - felis concolor floridana, however the Florida bobcat held the title Floridana, and so the panther acquired the name of coryi. In 1993 the genus felis was changed to Puma, so the panther’s scientific classification has now become: Puma concolor coryi. 

 

When I first read the story of Cory’s meeting with the panther, I hated the story; I thought it was terrible that the poor panther was named after the man who shot her. But I have since come to appreciate this tale from the standpoint of history, and consider it a measure of how far we have evolved from those pioneer days. The story was a sign of the times; hunting was a part of life back in the 1800s. For wealthy folks hunting safaris were for pleasure, while others hunted out of pure necessity. There was no supermarket down the street, where you could buy a steak on a bed of Styrofoam and sealed in cling wrap. Science and discovery of the animal kingdom, was explored through the dead rather than the living, many animals were killed in the field then taken back to museums to be probed in more depth.

 

We have gained a greater understanding of the creatures that share our world, developed respect for their abilities and fascination for their ways of life. But have we in fact shed the cloak of fear to dawn the mantle of conservation, chosen preservation over slaughter?

 

 

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FEMALE PANTHER SHOT BY CHARLES BARNEY CORY



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