Common name: Jaguar
Scientific name: Panthera onca
At the zoo: Brothers Jasper and Loki (5y). If you get a chance to see them up close, Jasper has amber eyes and Loki has blue eyes! You can find them in our Cat Complex beside the snow leopards.
Jaguars have a large distribution, found from the southern United States, down through Central America, toward the middle of South America. They live in a wide variety of habitats including forest, savannah, shrubland, grassland, and wetland.
Carnivorous - they eat a wide variety of prey from large ungulates to small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Conservation Status: Near Threatened
Jaguars are the largest cats in the Americas and the only members of the genus 'Panthera' also known as the 'Big Cats'. The other 4 members are lions, tigers, leopards, and snow leopards. Jaguars eat a wide variety of prey (over 80 species!) which allow them to survive in a wide variety of habitats. They are built for power and not speed, so they prefer to hunt with surprise attacks from a concealed location. They are great swimmers and tree climbers which aid them in their ambushes.
Jaguars can be spotted or black. The melanistic (black) jaguar is a color variety, not a separate species. A litter of kittens can have spotted and black ones in it. The term 'Black Panther' can be applied to any melanistic variant of the genus Panthera, but most notably leopards and jaguars.
The main threat to jaguars is illegal poaching, however, being camouflaged and naturally secretive helps them to avoid detection.
Melanistic (black) jaguars are more common in forested habitats where they blend into the dawn and dusk foliage - their preferred time to hunt.