I want to share a secret with everyone: Jaguars are my favorite, and especially our male jaguar, Jutai!
Jutai is shy and elusive, but he is such an amazingly awesome charismatic megavetebrate that it is difficult not to really have a keen interest in him. He is also an important umbrella species for the range countries his relatives inhabit. He himself came to the Zoo from a rescue situation in Belize.
Jaguars can be found throughout Central and South America. There have been some reported sightings in the southwestern portions of the United States, where jaguars were thought to have disappeared. Jutai’s home of Belize is one of the few remaining areas in the world where jaguars are still abundant and roam tropical rainforests.
Jaguars may be found in a variety of habitats that inlude scrubland and open ranges with tall grass and rocky terrain, along with shoreline and dense forested areas. Jaguars depend on finding habitats with an adequate water supply and enough terrain to offer hiding choices and hunting opportunities.
Deforestation and logging specifically are just one aspect of why the jaguar is considered "near threatened" in their conservation status. Our zoo is proud to partner and support Dr. Marcella Kelly, a conservation researcher and champion studying jaguars in their native habitats and working with loggers for a sustainable coexistence with the jaguars and all the animals that inhabit their ecosystem.
By Tammy Schmidt, Curator of Carnivores and Ungulates