The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida welcomed a baby jaguar on January 26. The cub, whose gender is still unknown, is bonding well with mother Masaya. Zoo visitors will be able to see the cub in a few months.
In the wild, jaguars inhabit the dense forests and swampy grasslands of Central and South America. They hunt deer, monkeys, tapirs, capybara, turtles and fish. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, jaguars are considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List.
The jaguar captured and collared in Arizona a few weeks ago, Macho B, was recaptured by wildlife officials when the big cat’s tracking device showed him to be lethargic. Tests revealed that the jaguar suffered from severe, untreatable kidney failure, a common ailment among older cats. Biologists put the jaguar to sleep the same day. Macho B was estimated to be 14-16 years old.
Although the jaguar was once commonly ranged from South America to the southern United States, hunting and habitat loss/fragmentation had crippled the population in North America. In fact, no jaguars had been spotted in Mexico since the early 1900s.
However, two independent sightings this month prove that the big cat’s range does span as far north as Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently captured and collared a male jaguar southwest of Tucson. The collar, which can be tracked by satellite, will provide more data about the cat’s movements in the future.
Another male jaguar was captured on film by an automatic camera set up on a trail in Mexico. Scientists believe that area could be a corridor connecting jaguar populations. In this way, they have a better understanding of the areas of habitat crucial to jaguar survival.