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Jutai: Male, born in Belize and found in a citrus orchard when he was about 4 months old. He was brought to the Belize Zoo in March 2004 and arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo on April 17, 2007. He is yellow with black rosettes.
Kanga: Female, born at the Zoologico La Jungla in Guatamala on September 7, 2000, she came to the Philadelphia Zoo on October 14, 2010. Kanga arrived here under a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation. Kanga has a shorter tail. She is quite animated with her tail even though it is shorter. She has given birth to 7 cubs, 6 of which are still living at other zoos across the country.
The jaguar habitat at Big Cat Falls offers a huge glass window for face to face viewing. Be within inches of a jaguar as it prowls its territory.
Big Cat Falls
Jaguars can be found from northern Mexico to Patagonia (area in Argentina and Chile). Belize is one of the few remaining areas in the world where jaguars are still abundant and roam tropical rain forests relatively unmolested. There have been several confirmed sightings of jaguars in New Mexico and Arizona!
Jaguars hunt at night, and use tactics like ambush and stalking. Like all other felines (except lions), jaguars hunt alone. They kill their prey by chomping into its neck with one bite! They might also try to cut off its air by gripping its throat. Ouch!
Melanistic jaguars are not uncommon. In fact, melanism is inherited as a dominant gene. Melanism makes their fur black, kind of the way some people have brown or black hair. Since it is a "dominant gene," it is easily inherited. Even though they look solid black, you can still see the outline of their spots. Black jaguars are more often found in the most dense jungle regions because their dark color is adapted to living in darker areas of the forest – they can blend right in!
Some jaguars are "tawny" with yellowish to brown fur and a visible pattern of rosette markings across its body. Others are melanistic or black. Black jaguars are not uncommon. These jaguars have a spotted skin, with black fur. At certain angles you can actually see the spotted skin of the jaguar under its dark colored fur.
The irregular shapes within the rosette markings on a jaguar’s body (basically a spot within a spot) can be distinguished more easily on the jaguar than other spotted large cats, such as leopards or cheetahs.
The jaguar has a heavy-built body and a very powerful jaw which it uses to strike down its prey in one bite. The size of the jaguar depends on its environment. Those living in forested areas tend to be smaller than those living in open grasslands. Researchers have suggested the reason for this is the abundance of larger prey in the open terrain.
A jaguar’s typical lifespan is 17 years, though they can live to be 25 years or more. Because jaguars are so secretive, we are not sure how long they can live in the wild. Hey, future researchers, maybe that’s something YOU will discover one day!
Jaguars are solitary animals, only coming together to mate. A female's pregnancy lasts 90-110 days. After giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs, the babies will remain inside their den for two weeks before beginning to explore the world outside. After a period of six months, they'll begin to hunt with their mother.
Jaguars live most of their lives on their own. They enjoy hunting during the late night hours, climbing into trees to wait and pounce on their prey. Jaguars have been known to travel great distances to find food and if resources like food and water are plentiful enough, they can sustain a territory as large as three square miles.
Males are generally larger than females. Male jaguars average 123 pounds (56kg) and females average 90 pounds (41kg).
They can range in weight from 88 pounds (40kg) to 150 pounds (68kg).
Jaguars prefer large prey such as deer and peccaries but will eat anything they can catch including frogs. At the Zoo, their diet includes a commercial meat mix, beef long bones and shank bones as well as whole prey such as rabbits. The diet is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of each animal. A beef shank bone is offered once a week. Because shank bones have nearly 7 lbs (3.2 kg) of meat attached to them, some of the meat is removed from the bone before it is offered to this species. In addition to food, the shank bones provide exercise for the animal’s jaw muscles.
Jaguars can be found throughout Central and South America. There have also been sightings in the southwestern United States, where jaguars were thought to have disappeared. Jaguars can be found in a variety of habitats: densely covered forests, shoreline forests, scrubland and open ranges with tall grass and rocky terrain. The jaguar depends on finding habitats with an adequate water supply and enough terrain to offer concealment and the opportunity to hunt in stealth.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the jaguar is listed as Near Threatened.
The Philadelphia Zoo works with partners and colleagues around the world to save wildlife. From South America to Asia to Africa, these projects are conducting research, protecting habitat, educating communities and building capacity. We are proud to support them and the important work they do.
The jaguar’s role as an “umbrella species” adds another layer of urgency to conserving them. Because large cats have large home ranges, their protection will ensure the protection of vast amounts of biodiversity sharing the same habitat.
Dr. Marcella Kelly has been using remote camera-trap surveys to monitor jaguar populations in Western Belize for more than 10 years. A recent a three-year study investigated the impact of sustainable logging on jaguars. A comparison was made to determine how many individuals were using a sustainably logged forest vs. an unlogged forest in Belize, Central America.
The overall aim of this study was to determine whether logging practices in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, the largest private reserve and second largest protected area in Belize, are indeed “sustainable” in terms of the effects on mid- and large sized animals like jaguars.
More and more cattle ranchers are using land where jaguars used to live. The ranchers are driving jaguars' prey (like deer) out of the area, so the jaguars sometimes have to eat the cattle to survive. This angers the ranchers and puts their cattle in danger, so they kill the jaguars as soon as they see them.
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