EAST FORT MYERS (FOX 13) - A Lee County man said he was enjoying dinner with family at his father's house when a panther walked up and sat on the porch just outside the window.
It happened March 18 at the home of Phil Hendra's parents, in the area of the FPL power plant.
Sitting at the dinner table with his 10-year-old son, Phillip, Jr., his 6-year-old son, Zachary, his 12-year-old daughter, Casey, and his parents - Teddi and Richard Hendra, Phil said something outside grabbed their attention.
Hendra told FOX 13 News, Phillip, Jr. said, "look at that funny looking dog out on the deck."
When they turned to look out the window, a fully-grown panther stared back at them.
"Beautiful. Looked very healthy," Hendra explained, adding it stayed on the porch for about 20 minutes.
Hendra said the big cat laid down on the porch for some time before looking back through the window, then slowly walking away. They snapped several photos of the large cat while it relaxed.
Phil Hendra said the family hasn't spotted the cat since.
Hendra said his parents have lived in the home since 1988. They saw a younger panther about two years ago, but never a fully-grown cat so close to their house.
Hendra said there was, "nothing like this once in a lifetime experience," and added Phillip, Jr. bounced around the house in excitement for about an hour after the panther left.
Meanwhile, Hendra's photo circulated online for about 10 days before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tracked him down to confirm its original location.
To report panther sightings to the FWC, visit http://bit.ly/1pYivXe
The FWC said panther research and management is primarily funded by the “Protect the Panther” license plate. To buy a panther license plate, visit: http://bit.ly/VnyOZg