Jaguars are one of the most formidable creatures on the planet. Heavily built with a compact body and a broad head, they are the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest feline species after the tiger and the lion.
Pound for pound, they are as impressive as they come, with the strongest jaw strength of any of the big cats. While the preferred hunting strategy for most big cats is to take down prey by severing the spinal cord with a bite to the neck, jaguars often display a different method: with that amazing jaw pressure and incredibly sharp teeth, jaguars usually kill their prey with one crushing bite to the skull.
Jaguars are solitary animals meaning that they live and hunt alone except during the mating season. They hunt mostly on the ground but sometimes will climb a tree and pounce on their prey from above. They are not finicky and will eat anything that they can catch. Some items on their long and varied menu include deer, peccary, caiman, turtle, fish and snake.
Currently we have one male jaguar in our big cat family at the Zoo. Since he feels more comfortable being inside with his keepers during the day, he is most often a night cat that goes outside once the Zoo closes. However, if you are planning on visiting the Zoo, you still might be able to get a glimpse of Jutai if you can get to Big Cat Falls early. If he isn’t ready to go inside for his breakfast by the time you arrive, then you will usually find him in one of our three courtyard exhibits.
By Jen Robertson, KeyBank Big Cat Falls Keeper